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Editor’s note Reflection on what it means to be organic with words of wisdom from an Indian chief The Grapevine Jo Immig tells us about Ellen White’s more peaceful approach to dealing with weeds Ask Melissa Horticulturist Melissa King answers our readers’ curly questions Clever Crops Jennifer Stackhouse explains why she classes cucumbers and coffee as clever crops Power Plant Borage is a herb with tasty leaves and pretty, blue edible flowers that attract bees to your garden
6 | Good Organic Gardening
18 Family Heirloom Melissa King tells us about the colourful and tasty varieties of capsicum 21 Cyber Blog Chloe Thomson reveals her “to-do list”, sharing some of her quick and simple tasks that will improve her harvest 22 Gardening Folk Our contributor Chloe Thomson gives us a look at the beautiful organic garden she has created for her family 26 Garden Folk A suburban block in a quiet country town produces abundant produce for owners Lynette Hadson and Mikala Five 30 Garden Folk Ian Nash is a landscape gardener and uses his wealth
of knowledge to create a garden for food and fun 34 Time to Plant Tasty and aromatic pineapple sage and mint are right to be planted in early spring 36 Garden Solutions Aphids are tiny sap-
sucking insects that are easy to spot and simple to organically eradicate 38 Garden Solutions We tell you how to deal with White Curl Grubs that can be in the soil of plant pots, garden beds and lawn areas
CONTENTS 40 Gardening Tips 50 The Shed Arthur and Rosemary Good tools make jobs in the Lathouris, our sustainable garden easier and we tell you gardeners, share their 10 the essential ones needed 54 Things To Do Top Tips For most, spring is the 42 Weekend Gardening best season in the garden Propagating your own plants and Jennifer Stackhouse is easy, rewarding and a shares advice for great way to add new plants September and October to your garden 58 Feathered Friends 46 The Underground There is a growing trend How to grow abundant towards raising chickens produce in just one square for meat. Megg Miller tells metre of space — a taste us how to thoughtfully go from Square Metre Gardening about it by Mel Bartholomew
62 Professional Organics Hidden deep in a valley in northern NSW, David and Kerrie Flinter have established a thriving organic macadamia farm 66 From Garden to Glass Nature’s Wonderland share their juicing recipes, using delicious spring produce that will keep you healthy 68 From Garden to Table Five seasonal edibles — how to grow, harvest, store and preserve — plus delicious recipes from chef Simon Bryant 91 Plant Profile Beans — popular and easyto-grow 94 Cover To Cover The latest books for gardeners and cooks reviewed 96 What’s New Our Pick of the Crop of products and services for gardeners and cooks
Good Organic Gardening | 7
September/October issue 4.3 Editor Diane Norris Managing Editor Kerry Boyne Design Katharine McKinnon Sub-Editor Kerry Boyne Horticultural Consultant Jennifer Stackhouse Contributors Kerry Boyne, Simon Bryant, Jo Immig, Melissa King, Arthur Lathouris, Rosemary Lathouris, Megg Miller, Nature’s Wonderland, Diane Norris, Jennifer Stackhouse, Chloe Thomson Food photography Diane Norris Advertising Manager Miriam Keen Ph: 02 9887 0604 | Fax: 02 9878 5553 Mob: 0414 969 693 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Cover Photo Getty Images
Chairman/CEO Prema Perera Publisher Janice Williams Chief Financial Officer Vicky Mahadeva Associate Publisher Emma Perera Associate Publisher Karen Day Circulation Director Mark Darton Creative Director Kate Podger Editorial Production Manager Karina Piddington Print Production Manager Lilian Ohanessian Prepress Manager Ivan Fitz-Gerald Subscriptions Manager Chelsea Peters Licensing & Export Manager Samantha Roberts Subscription enquiries: 1300 303 414 Circulation enquiries to our Sydney head office: (02) 9805 0399 Good Organic Gardening Vol. 4 No. 3 is published by Universal Magazines Pty Ltd, Unit 5, 6-8 Byfield Street, North Ryde, NSW 2113, Australia. Phone: (02) 9805 0399, Fax: (02) 9805 0714. Printed by KHL Printing Co Pte Ltd, Singapore. Distributed by Network Services, Phone: (02) 9282 8777. This book is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission. Enquiries should be addressed to the publishers. The publishers believe all the information supplied in this book to be correct at the time of printing. They are not, however, in a position to make a guarantee to this effect and accept no liability in the event of any information proving inaccurate. Prices, addresses and phone numbers were, after investigation and to the best of our knowledge and belief, up to date at the time of printing, but the shifting sands of time may change them in some cases. It is not possible for the publishers to ensure that advertisements which appear in this publication comply with the Trade Practices Act, 1974. The responsibility must therefore be on the person, company or advertising agency submitting the advertisements for publication. While every endeavour has been made to ensure complete accuracy, the publishers cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. The opinions expressed by individual writers in Good Organic Gardening are not necessarily those of the publishers. *Recommended retail price ISSN 1837-9206 Copyright © Universal Magazines MMXII ACN 003 026 944 www.universalmagazines.com.au Please pass on or recycle this magazine.
pring is here and it’s the perfect time to be reinvigorated in your organic garden. But why is eating, or more particularly growing your own, organic food so important? Dan Shapley is an award-winning environmental journalist and the senior editor of TheDailyGreen.com. He has just compiled a feature for 2013 — The New Dirty Dozen: 12 Foods to Eat Organically. “The latest list of foods with the highest pesticide residue includes some familiar fruits and vegetables, and some surprises” he says. For years, similar lists have been circulated warning consumers of the dangers of pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables and it’s not only surface residue that is of concern; chemicals can be absorbed by edibles and infiltrate their fleshy interior. The Dirty Dozen List is of significance as chemical residue on, and absorption of chemicals in, produce is the same worldwide since chemical farming is a global practice. So here is the 2013 Dirty Dozen List (with a couple of extras included): • Apples — whole apples, as well as apple juice and apple sauce • Celery • Tomatoes — including all varieties as well as tomato sauce, paste, soup and tomato-based products • Cucumbers • Grapes — also sultanas, raisins and wine • Capsicums and chillies • Nectarines • Peaches • Potatoes • Strawberries • Blueberries • Spinach • Kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbage • Lettuce For more information visit www.thedailygreen.com. The good news is you can avoid pesticide exposure by buying certified organic produce or, of course, growing your own. If you buy non-organic produce wash as thoroughly as possible. This has got me thinking about what we, as humans, are doing to our environment and has reminded me of a note sent to me by a friend. It contained a thought-provoking quote by Chief Seattle (born 1786), who was an ancestral leader of the Suquamish Tribe that traditionally lived along the Kitsap Peninsula, across Puget Sound from the present Seattle. He said, “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect”. So, I hope you enjoy your organic garden during this beautiful time of the year. Happy gardening
Diane Norris is the editor of Good Organic Gardening. She has written for Burke’s Backyard magazine, Backyard & Garden Design Ideas, Gourmet Kitchen, Greenhouse Living and Organic WellBeing. She was the editor of Sustainable & Waterwise Gardens and Good Gardening Guide. Diane has lived an organic lifestyle for more than 26 years and is committed to doing things the way Mother Nature intended. Unashamedly earthy, she promotes sustainable and organic living solutions while advocating an awareness of nature and wild places through her photography and writing.
WELCOME SPRING THE AUSTRALIAN GARDEN SHOW SYDNEY – September 5-8, 2013 The inaugural Australian Garden Show Sydney will set the scene for what is to become the leading floral and gardening show in South East Asia and the key event for NSW each spring. It will be set within the parklands of Sydney’s Centennial Park and will mark the first days of spring. The Australian Garden Show Sydney will be a collaboration of horticulture, gardening and landscape design that will attract participants and audiences from all over Australia and internationally. Amateur and professional gardeners, design enthusiasts, families and home owners will flock to the show for inspiration. We hope to see you there! For more information visit www. australiangardenshowsydney. com.au
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THE GRAPEVINE | News
the grapevine Environmental news and updates compiled by Jo Immig
Making peace with your weeds
s with all wars, the one on weeds has its casualties and lasting impacts. It’s also expensive, says botanist Ellen White. Rather than seeing weeds as the enemy she is taking a more peaceful approach, which may prove more effective in the long run. In 2010, with a grant from the Northern Rivers Catchment Management Authority, Ellen and a dedicated team began work on a 4.5ha coastal site in NSW’s Brunswick Heads. The Byron Shire Chemical Free Landcare Group was established and, three years on, it’s well on the way to restoring the spot to its former glory. Ellen developed her approach after witnessing the damage caused by aerial spraying with herbicides to control bitou bush, now a listed weed of national significance. A native of South Africa, bitou bush was deliberately planted to stabilise dunes after coastal sandmining in the 1960s and 70s. Ironically, children were paid to plant it at the time but now governments spend millions trying to control it with herbicides. After several years of aerial spraying in the Dirawong Reserve and Bundjalung National Park in NSW, Ellen documented the impact on native species, including hectares of dying coastal banksia woodland. She believes the glyphosate herbicide used
10 | Good Organic Gardening
disturbed the delicate balance of microbes and nutrients in the fragile coastal soils and damaged the plant’s health. Animals were affected, too. Local wallabies, birds and insects essentially had nowhere to go when vast areas were sprayed. Ellen says nobody has ever investigated the impact on earthworms, frogs, bees and other animals when areas are repeatedly sprayed. “Taking an ecological approach to restoration offers many benefits over chemicals,” she says. “Keeping the soil healthy is the key. While some plants may
be exotic, they are providing soil cover, helping it to recover below ground. Unless a plant actively inhibits natural regeneration, it’s likely to be beneficial.” Ellen maintains that it’s “important to consider the whole ecology before jumping in and clearing large tracts. Lantana, for instance, can provide protection for birds and mammals and food for butterflies. By working with nature, you encourage native species to regenerate naturally.” The “crowning method” she developed for bitou bush is elegantly simple: “Working in pairs, branches are cut off using loppers, leaving a stump of about half a metre. One person holds and gently pulls the stump to put tension on the roots. The second person cuts the roots with the loppers just below the main part of the plant. You can’t pull too hard because it leaves a piece of the main part of the plant attached to the roots and the plant will regrow. We leave the roots, push the sand back over to stop the light and that’s it.” The bitou branches are spread over the ground and left to control soil erosion. They also provide mulch and habitat and help stop people walking through the area and stepping on new native seedlings that quickly start germinating. The cleared areas are revisited several times to pull out new bitou seedlings. Another benefit of the chemical-free approach is it’s safe for the whole family and there’s less equipment to carry around. “Rather than one guy in a helicopter spraying The South African native was originally planted to stabilise coastal sand dunes
Photos by Jo Immig
Gently removing a bitou bush stump
A coastal banksia seedling pops up after bitou bush is cleared
chemicals from the air, the local community gets a chance to reconnect with the land,” Ellen says. While some may say the approach is labour intensive and not cost effective, Ellen, unsurprisingly, doesn’t see it that way. “What’s wrong with manual labour? It’s a great opportunity to be physical, to learn and to build relationships with community and country. It also provides opportunities for paid work and volunteering.” In terms of its cost-effectiveness, she says, “There’s never been an analysis to work that out; just an assumption that it costs more.” For ecosystem restoration, Ellen says the recovery rates using her method are more rapid because the soil is kept healthy and native seed stock bursts out of the ground: “In the coastal environment, there’s no need to plant anything — just sit back and watch nature do the work.” An unexpected surprise has been the return of endangered plants: the Pink Nodding Orchid, a species with fewer than 20 populations in NSW, and Stinking Cryptocarya, brought in by birds attracted to the exotic Brazilian Cherry. Weeds in Australia are spreading faster than they can be controlled and their management is consuming an enormous amount of resources, according to government sources. Climate change is bringing even more challenges. Ellen White is developing a website detailing the methods used in northern NSW. She’s looking for other groups or individuals restoring ecosystems with an ecological approach to also feature their methods, share photos and network. If you’d like to connect with Ellen White, please email email@example.com. Jo Immig is a writer and photographer who is passionate about all things organic. She’s the co-ordinator of the National Toxics Network, a not-for-profit organisation working to eliminate toxic chemical pollution. She’s an environmental scientist with expertise in a range of areas, including pesticides, genetically engineered food, indoor air pollution and children’s health and chemicals. She represents the environment sector on the Community Engagement Forum of the Commonwealth industrial chemical regulator NICNAS. Jo has published several books and contributed numerous articles on household chemical issues and sustainable living. Contact Jo at the National Toxics Network: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.ntn.org.au.
Good Organic Gardening | 11
Q&A | Ask Melissa
ask melissa Horticulturist and TV presenter Melissa King answers your curly cultivation questions
I’m looking for a climbing rose to cover an arbour my husband just built for our garden. I would love a soft-pink variety. Can you recommend any good ones? You’ll love the old pink climbing rose ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’. It was named after Empress Josephine’s garden at Malmaison and boasts masses of gorgeous blush-pink flowers with a lovely old-world shape and delightful fragrance. It repeatflowers throughout the warmer months. If you’re after a variety with extraordinarily fragrant blooms, look no further than the Delbard climbing rose ‘Nahema’. It displays large light-pink, double, deeply cupped blooms from October right through to May and many gardeners and growers believe it to be the best fragrant climbing rose around.
12 | Good Organic Gardening
I would love a serious discussion on how to control possums in suburban gardens. I am close to giving up and planting yuccas and white pebbles. I wish I had one magic organic answer for you. Instead, I’m going to suggest a number of different methods, all of which the gardeners I have chatted with over the years have had varying success with. You might like to sprinkle blood and bone around the garden. The scent has been known to deter possums. If it doesn’t work, at least you are giving the garden a good feed. You could also apply a natural spray made from Quassia chips to plants that are particularly attractive to our furry friends. Quassia chips come from the bark of a Jamaican tree, Picrasma excelsa, and if applied regularly may deter possums from attacking favoured plants. Just be sure to reapply it after rain. One of the most effective but not necessarily the most practical or attractive methods is to physically protect your plants, be it with netting or some other kind of guard around the trunk of trees or bigger plants. Or you could even try feeding them fruit as a means of luring them away from your favourite plants — they love organic apples. There are also devices on the market that emit high-frequency sounds that we can’t hear but annoy the hell out of possums!
I find that colour really drops off in my garden towards late summer. Are there any plants you can recommend to bridge the gap between summer and autumn? alvias are a good choice for late colour, flowering well into autumn. ‘Ember’s Wish’ is a lovely variety that grows to around 80cm tall with vibrant, coral-pink blooms. ‘Aztec Blue’ is another beauty with almost iridescent blue flowers and copper-tinged foliage. At just 30cm tall, it’s a top choice for decorative pots. Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is a favourite of mine. It bursts into bloom around February and continues flowering well into autumn. Even when the masses of pink flowers fade, the seed heads are really attractive and, if you’re not too quick to cut them off, they make a pretty display through the cooler months. Bursts of late colour are provided by dahlias, too. Look for dwarf forms such as Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff ’ with striking scarlet flowers and burgundy foliage. These flower well and are an excellent choice for filling the gap between late summer and autumn.
for up to six months. You might also like to try some of the newer organic weed killers on the market such as Beat-A-Weed, which combines acetic acid (vinegar) and sodium chloride (salt) and works by dehydrating the weed from the top down.
All over my vegetable beds, potato patch — everywhere — I have oxalis! I dig the bulbs out and collect them in pellet bags, which I take to the tip or we burn. It’s a never-ending job. I once asked a shire gardener in town what to do about it. His response was, “Sell your place.” I hope you have a better answer. I am looking forward to it and thank you in advance. There is no doubt that oxalis is a pain to deal with, but I wouldn’t resort to selling your place just yet. Unfortunately, digging oxalis out generally results in spreading the bulbils further so, if it has invaded large patches, I would recommend blanket-mulching the area. Put down a heavy layer of newspaper on top of the affected areas — six or so sheets is ideal. Make sure you overlap the pages so light can’t get through. The idea is to starve the weeds of sunlight. Then apply a good layer of organic mulch, such as lucerne or pea straw, on top of the newspaper; 5–10cm will do the job. Starving oxalis to death won’t happen overnight, so try to keep the area undisturbed
Email your queries to Melissa at infoGOG@universalmagazines.com.au
Photos by Bigstock & Diane Norris
Salvia sp ‘Wendy’s Wish’
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CLEVER CROPS | Cucumber
Cucumber Cucumis sativus
ucumbers are so widely grown you may wonder why I am classing them as a clever crop. Perhaps it is the gardener, not the cucumber, who is clever. Let me explain. Cucumbers are part of the pumpkin family (Cucurbitaceae). One of the features of this large group of warm-season edible plants is they produce separate male and female flowers on the same plant (or occasionally on separate plants). For fruit to form, pollen has to be transferred from the male flower to the female. The normal way for this to happen is for honeybees or other pollinating insects to carry the pollen from flower to flower. Many cucurbits make pollination tricky even for hardworking bees. Flowers only last only a day and the production of male and female flowers can be uncoordinated, especially early in the growing season, when there can be lots of pollen-filled male flowers but no females. Sometimes the reverse occurs, with “girl” flowers open for business when the boys have taken the day off. The result is little fruit. This is where cucumbers and gardeners have come together to develop plants that produce only female flowers that don’t require pollination to form fruit. The ability to form fruit without pollination is termed parthenocarpy and fruit is seedless. Parthenocarpic cucumbers were bred for cold-climate commercial growers to avoid the problems of a lack of pollinators inside a glasshouse. The shrink-wrapped telegraph cucumbers sold in supermarkets are parthenocarpic.
14 | Good Organic Gardening
Cucumbers come in a large range of shapes, sizes and even colours. Most are cylindrical and green but some are round and white (usually known as apple cucumbers). Popular cylindrical varieties include Lebanese and “burpless” (sweet and easily digested), both of which require pollination. It’s best to pick Lebanese cucumbers while they’re small (about 10–12cm long). Downy and powdery mildews are two diseases that can affect cucumbers, so look for varieties bred for resistance.
Growing tips Cucumbers are easy to grow, quick to germinate when soils are warm (20°C and above) and suited to gardens and large containers. They sprawl over the ground but are easier to tend if grown on a trellis. They grow best in fertile soil enriched with organic matter several weeks before planting. Seeds are direct-sown or started in punnets. Space plants 40–50cm apart.
Once cucumbers start to fruit (14–16 weeks from sowing) they do so abundantly. To avoid a glut and have cucumbers right through summer, plant seeds every four to six weeks. Keep all plants growing strongly with regular watering and applications of an organic fertiliser every four or five weeks.
Cool as a cucumber Cucumbers get their cool from their high water content: they are more than 90 per cent water. Slices of cucumber are used traditionally to soothe tired eyes — and the mouth when eating spicy foods. With that high water content they are also low in fat and calories. They contain useful vitamins, including B vitamins and vitamin C, and even several cancer-fighting chemicals. Most of the good stuff is the skin, so eat the skin along with the cool white flesh to make the most of their nourishment.
Cucumber label Common name: Cucumber Botanical name: Cucumis sativus Group: Annual vine Requires: Sun, moist soil Dislikes: Drying out Suitable for: Vegetable gardens and containers in all climates Habit: Climber Needs: Protection from frost Propagation: Seed, seedling Difficulty: Easy
Photos Bigstock & Diane Norris
Words by Jennfier Stackhouse
Coffee | CLEVER CROPS
Coffee Coﬀea arabica
Words by Jennfier Stackhouse
Photos by Bigstock
offee grows best in tropical and subtropical climates but there’s nothing to stop gardeners in cooler climes attempting to grow coffee plants. However, if you think you can be self-sufficient in coffee with a few backyard plants, think again. There are many steps between planting and settling back with a steaming cup of homegrown coffee. Coffee is a handsome shrub to small tree, growing to about 3–4m high and wide. It has shiny green leaves and sweetly scented white flowers. The flowers are borne in autumn and followed quickly by berries. The berries start off round and green but gradually ripen to cherry red. There are also varieties such as ‘Gold’ that ripen yellow. When berries form you are on the way to that cup of coffee. Start by harvesting the ripe berries, then remove the flesh, saving the seeds (usually two per berry), and finally remove the mucilage layer around the seeds by fermenting the seeds then rinsing them clean. Before roasting and grinding, the seeds are dried (for example, on a drying rack in the sun). Finally, the coffee is roasted (some coffee shops will do this for backyard growers) and ground. It takes 70 beans to make a cup of coffee, which equates to 35 berries.
Growing tips Growing coffee is like growing more familiar ornamental shrubs such as gardenia (to which
the coffee plant is closely related) or camellia. Coffee is slow to grow from seed or cutting, so start with tube stock or a potted shrub — or, indeed, several — to speed up the wait for a cuppa. Plant the shrubs into moist soil well endowed with organic matter and well drained. Expect flowering and berry production after three or more years of growth. One of the best ways to produce a useful amount of coffee in a garden is to grow it as a hedge. One of the most productive mini coffee
Clever coffee The jury is always out on the benefits or pitfalls of drinking coffee but there’s agreement about the value of caffeine in the garden. Snails and slugs, in particular, have a bad reaction to caffeine, which is why it can be used to deter or even kill these molluscs. Bees, however, appreciate a caffeine boost. Research from Newcastle University in the UK showed that bees, feeding on flowers whose nectar contains caffeine — including coffee, oranges and grapefruit flowers — were more likely to remember the flowers’ scent. The researchers say caffeine could encourage bees to remember these blooms as a good source of nectar. Now, that’s clever.
plantations I have seen in a suburban garden was a hedge grown on the narrow, shaded space between neighbouring houses. Keep plants pruned to a size that makes them easy to harvest: usually to about 2–3m high. Prune after harvesting. Coffee plants are generally free of pest and disease problems in home gardens.
Coffee Label Common name: Coffee Botanical name: Coffea arabica Group: Evergreen shrub or small tree Requires: Part shade, moist but welldrained soil Dislikes: Frost Suitable for: Orchards, edible hedges, containers Habit: Dense, shrubby Needs: Protection from frost and cold Propagation: Seed Difficulty: Moderately difficult
Good Organic Gardening | 15
POWER PLANT | Borage
Borage (Borago officinalis) If you want a herb with tasty leaves and pretty, edible, bee-attracting ﬂowers for your salads and summer drinks, borage is the one Words by Kerry Boyne
orago officinalis is known by many names — borage, burrage, common bugloss, bee-bread, bee fodder, ox-tongue, langdebeef, tailwort, cool tankard — but perhaps the one that gives the most clue as to why you would want it in your garden is its “starflower” moniker. It is indeed a star of the vegie garden for several reasons, not least those lovely vivid-blue five-pointed flowers with contrasting black anthers. The rather lanky plant reaches more half a metre to a metre high and wide, and its stem and leaves are covered with coarse, prickly hairs. It looks best grown among plants of a similar size to hide its foliage — not the attractive part of the plant — so that only the blue flowers are on show. It is a native of Europe but has been widely naturalised in many other regions due to its hardiness and ability to self-seed prolifically.
problems and cardiovascular ills. Now it’s mainly the seed oil that’s used for therapeutic purposes as it’s one of the richest plant sources of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA): 21 per cent and higher compared with, say, evening primrose oil at 9 per cent. Interestingly, some people feed borage leaves and flowers to horses when they have a cough, and chickens like it as well. The herb is said to have mild sedative and anti-depressant effects and can
morning stiffness, joint tenderness and pain from rheumatoid arthritis. Borage’s status in herbal medicine has declined because, apart from its highly beneficial constituents, it also contains trace amounts of the pyrrolizidine alkaloids that in large quantities can be liver toxic. However the levels in borage are extremely low and these compounds are not present in the oil. The plant’s widespread historical use as a vegetable in countries like Germany, Spain, Greece and Italy suggests safety is not an issue in normal, moderate consumption. Some authorities counsel against taking it regularly as a tea, however.
Medicinal uses These days, borage doesn’t enjoy the sort of healing reputation many other herbs do, yet as we’ve mentioned before on these pages, that word officinalis indicates it was an important item in pharmacies of the past. Traditionally, it was used for stomach ailments, respiratory
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increase perspiration and have a diuretic action. It contains mucilages, which is what makes it helpful for respiratory ailments. It has also been used externally in eyewashes and poultices as well as in mouthwashes. The oil is excellent for skin texture and several skin ailments, and has been shown in clinical trials to significantly reduce
like flavour, should be picked young, usually just before the plant flowers. The older leaves may be used like spinach in cooked dishes and sauces. They need to be chopped finely because of the prickly hairs. The slightly sweet-tasting, cucumbery flowers are also excellent in salads for colour, or crystallised with egg white and fine sugar for cake decoration. Immersed and frozen into ice
Photo by Diane Norris
One of the best things about this pretty plant for garden health is its irresistibility to bees — it’s not called uses bee plant for nothing. As long as you Culinary Both the leaves and flowers may be have borage ﬂowering, you’ll have used in salads, soups, stirfries, pasta fillings, sauces and drinks. For salads, bees to pollinate your vegies. the leaves, which have a cucumber-
Borage | POWER PLANT
cubes, they make a lovely addition to summer drinks. In fact, borage was traditionally used to garnish the Pimm’s No 1 Cup cocktail, though it’s often replaced by cucumber peel.
Gluten-free Orange Cake
This delicious, moist cake is gluten-free by tradition and will ½ll your kitchen with the enticing aroma of whole cooked oranges. Organic ¾ax ¾our adds a healthy twist to this popular recipe.
Borage is a plant that needs a lot of elbow room in the garden. It really likes to spread itself out (and around) and is likely to choke other plants if it doesn’t have enough space. One of the best things about this pretty plant for garden health is its irresistibility to bees — it’s not called bee plant for nothing. As long as you have borage flowering, you’ll have bees to pollinate your vegies. A hardy annual, borage is happy with average to rich soil and is very easy to grow from seed, which should not be planted deep as it needs light to germinate. After it flowers, it will self-seed readily, so once you have it you’ll never be without it. If you want to contain its spread, make sure you pull out the new plants before they set seed. Borage needs full sun to dappled shade and good drainage and, once established, is quite drought-tolerant and can be allowed to dry between waterings. Pick the leaves and flowers just before using as they wilt quickly.
Starflower Salad 3 handfuls favourite salad leaves Small handful young borage leaves Small handful borage flowers A few nasturtium flowers if available, torn into petals Pomegranate seeds of ¼ small pomegranate, if in season ½ avocado, diced ½ punnet cherry tomatoes, halved 1 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar or lemon juice 2 tsp pomegranate molasses* Sea salt & cracked pepper to taste
Photo by iStock
Combine all leaves, flowers, avocado and cherry tomatoes in a salad bowl. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds if available. Mix together the oil, vinegar or lemon juice, and pomegranate molasses and drizzle over salad just before serving. Season, toss and serve.
2 oranges 250g caster sugar 6 eggs 150g almond meal 100g Stoney Creek Organic Flax Flour 1 tsp baking powder icing sugar for dusting butter/oil to grease pan Wash oranges and simmer whole for two hours. Drain and cool before pureeing whole (this can be done day prior). Preheat oven to 160ºC. Grease 20cm cake tin and dust with caster sugar. Beat eggs and sugar, stir in puree, then dry ingredients. Pour into tin and bake 1 - 1½ hours or until golden brown. Dust with icing sugar to serve.
Stoney Creek Organic Flax Flour is gluten-free, high in protein and dietary ½bre - and is the richest natural source of lignans. Available ffrom your local organic or health store, independent supermarket or visit stoneycreekoil.com.au
*A Middle Eastern ingredient available in delis and some IGAs. It makes apple cider vinegar very palatable as a healthy salad dressing ingredient. Healthy Farm. Healthy Food. ® Good Organic Gardening | 17
FAMILY HEIRLOOMS | Capsicum Plump, multi-colored bell peppers
Capsicums There’s so much more to the capsicum family than the familiar green and red varieties you see at the fruit market By Melissa King f tomatoes are the heroes of the summer vegetable garden, surely capsicums are not far behind. When I talk about capsicums, I’m referring to the sweet, large-fruited varieties that bring colour and added crunch to summer salads, not the hot chilli peppers that can really knock your socks off. If you’ve only ever eaten capsicums from the greengrocer, you could be excused for thinking there are only red and green varieties. In fact, capsicums come in a kaleidoscope of colours, from tiny chocolate-coloured ones through yellow and orange to varieties that change from green to purple to red throughout the season. Capsicums hail from Central and South America, where they are used in everything from soups to stews. Given their birthplace, it’s not surprising that capsicums enjoy the heat. While technically perennials, they are frost-sensitive, so most gardeners tend to grow them as annuals. If you live in a cold climate, it’s best to plant them now in spring to grow through
the hottest months of the year. Gardeners in tropical and subtropical climates can grow and harvest them virtually all year round. In cooler climates they ripen through summer and autumn just in time for the barbecue and garden party season. Capsicum seeds can be a bit finicky to germinate. One thing’s for sure: they need warm temperatures to sprout successfully, so if you’re sowing seed early you might want to do it somewhere warm, like a hothouse, and then transplant the seedlings outdoors later in spring. Otherwise, now that the weather is warming up, look out for capsicum seedlings in nurseries and garden centres. Choose a sunny spot and dig some organic matter and rotted manure into the soil before planting. Capsicums enjoy good levels of calcium, so add a bit of dolomite lime to the soil, too. Be sure to feed throughout the growing season with a good registered organic fertiliser that has the right balance of nitrogen for leafy growth and phosphorous and potassium for good root and fruit development. I also stake young seedlings as they are beginning to take off because the branches
Capsicums come in a kaleidoscope of colours, from chocolate through to yellow, orange, green, purple and red.
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FAMILY HEIRLOOMS | Capsicum 1 Long Sweet Yellow 2 Sweet Red 3 Purple Beauty
of mature plants have a tendency to snap or split with the weight of a mature crop. Among the modern varieties, ‘Sweet Mama’ is a favourite for its heavy crop of sweet, green, bell-shaped fruit that turns red when mature. ‘Hungarian Sweet Yellow’ is another good choice with long, golden fruit that’s perfect for frying. Where space is lacking, try growing ‘Sweet Red’, an extracompact variety that’s tailor-made for pots on a sunny patio. Delve into the world of heirlooms and the choice of varieties just keeps getting more exciting. Sow some seeds of old-fashioned Capsicum ‘Purple Beauty’ this spring and you’ll be harvesting pretty purple capsicums, which will be perfect chopped fresh in salads or for adding a bit of extra flair to homemade pizza. If you’re after big red capsicums, try growing the heirloom ‘Chinese Giant’. It’s been grown for over a century and for good reason. The big, bell-shaped fruit is sweet, full of flavour and delicious fresh or hollowed out, stuffed and baked. Capsicum ‘Gilboa Orange’ is another worthy choice. With thick, succulent flesh and a sunny, orange complexion, it’s delicious chargrilled on the barbecue or roasted and peeled. The kids will love ‘Sweet Chocolate’ for its chocolate-coloured bite-sized fruit — and you will, too, for the fantastic colour it adds to fresh summer salads. There are mini yellow and mini red capsicums, too. Gourmet gardeners will enjoy growing Capsicum ‘White Diamond’. The white fruit looks striking and unusual hanging on the plant before it ripens to a lovely creamy yellow.
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Just one or two plants can supply enough capsicums for a small family. Capsicums can be slow to develop, so expect to wait up to four months for fruit to appear, especially in colder areas. Many capsicums change colour over the season from green to yellow, orange, purple, dark brown or red, depending on the variety. You can pick at any stage; just bear in mind that the more mature the fruit is, the sweeter it is. Regular picking can also encourage more fruit. It’s best to harvest the fruit with a pair of secateurs rather than handpick them, as the brittle branches are prone to snapping.
Photos by iStock & courtesy of Oasis Horticulture
Chloe’s Blog | CYBER CHAT
Spring to-do list This time of year is the gardening blogger’s busiest with so much to write about By Chloe Thomson
Photo by Ger Hynes
s spring takes hold in the garden, let your chooks in to scratch around the base of fruit trees. They’ll catch any codling moth caterpillars that are making their way back down your fruit trees looking to pupate. If you have a younger orchard, be careful as the chooks’ scratching can expose the roots of your trees. I’ve found that placing a piece of chicken mesh on the ground around the base of the tree and pegging it down allows the chooks access to the soil for foraging but stops them scratching the soil away. Before spring takes over my garden and things get away from me, my to-do list includes some quick and simple tasks that can save me a lot of time throughout the
season and hopefully improve my harvest. Getting on top of weeds before they take over and set seed is something I am obsessive about. BEFORE you top up your mulch this spring, put down six or seven sheets of newspaper (wet them down with a hose as you go or soak the sheets in a wheelbarrow full of water if it’s windy) and top with a sprinkle of organically certified animal manure and then your mulch of choice. This thick newspaper layer suppresses weeds. Those that do eventually make it through don’t grow as densely, making it easier to pull them out by hand. I’m a year-round coffee addict, but my addiction is particularly useful at this time of the year. Save your used coffee grounds and sprinkle them on the garden to form a barrier around young seedlings in order to deter snails and slugs. My mum swears that a night-time findand-squash raid is the best control method for snails and slugs, but I’m a wimp and can’t stand the sound effects under my boot. Instead, I prefer to pick the little pests off and joyfully feed them to my chooks or drown them in a bucket of warm water before tipping them into the compost. If slugs are getting into hard-to-reach places, such as between tightly furled lettuce
leaves, sprinkle them with white pepper. The codling moth life cycle starts again in spring as the moths emerge from their overwinter cocoons looking to mate. To help break the cycle, hang pheromone traps now. There are several types available for the organic gardener and all work on the principle of reducing the numbers of moths available that will readily produce eggs. I like to add even more colour to my spring garden with pockets of flowering and fragrant plants to attract the good bugs into the garden to deter (or better still, feast on) the nasties. The team from Eco Organic Garden (www.ecoorganicgarden.com.au) sell a great seed packet of Backyard Buddies, a mix of annual and perennial plants designed to provide food and shelter for all those beneficial insects. Spring has sprung, so enjoy! To follow my edible gardening adventures and for more tips and information visit my blog: www.beantheredugthat.com.au
Join Australia’s largest gardening club! r The home of heirloom plants and seeds r Discounts and free offers for members r Six seasonal magazines r Information and advice to help you succeed in the garden 03 5984 7900 Good Organic Gardening | 21
GARDENING FOLK | Chloe Thomson Chloe among the raised vegie beds
A colourful acre built on sound biodynamic and permaculture principles — because we are what we eat
Words by Chloe Thomson s much as we love calling it our garden, we are more caretakers of it. My parents bought this property 14 years ago and began by transforming the very run-down 1930s Californian bungalow into a magnificent, ecofriendly, mud-brick masterpiece. Much of the building was done by my father and a team of labourers who often included me and my three younger brothers. For many years, the “garden” was largely a mass of (regularly mown) grass and weeds with several lovingly planted fruit trees and raised vegetable beds nestled among it all. It wasn’t until 2006, when the house was finished, that my parents turned their full attention to creating a garden space that both complemented the house and provided a space for food production and relaxation. In March 2009, my parents decided to move overseas with my father’s work and my husband and I very willingly moved in to house-and-garden-sit. In August 2012, we were joined by our son Remi, who is already showing a love of the colourful garden and chooks. I’m very proud to say the first sweet potatoes, peaches, plums, carrots, potatoes and herbs
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he ever tasted all came from my organic vegetable patch — and he loved them all.
An organic plan At just under an acre (a bit less than half a hectare), hard landscaping and designing a garden for this space was a daunting prospect so, in 2010, we enlisted the help of Phillip Johnson Landscaping. Their brief was to create, using some permaculture principles, an organic garden that would become a usable space for grandkids to play in and adults to enjoy and relax. Because the property is largely open with limited large established trees, we wanted to create a sense of rooms or separate spaces in the garden. This has been achieved with winding paths, little seating areas and the planting of tall-growing trees or shrubs, many of which are actually edible as well as practical. After six months of heavy earthworks, landscaping and planting, the garden was finally completed in March 2012. Banned from using any herbicides on site (as they might have done normally), the team from Phillip Johnson Landscaping became experts at laying down huge amounts of wet newspaper before topping with mulch. Thankfully, this has
Attracting native birds is so important here
Chloe Thomson | GARDENING FOLK Water adds movement to the garden space
Metre-high cypress garden beds keep herbs and vegies safe from predatory rabbits
Native birds love taking refuge in our fruit trees
Photos by Ger Hynes
With more than 25 diďŹ€erent fruiting trees and eight raised vegetable beds, the garden produces year-round fruit and vegetables for our enjoyment. In fact, with seven apple varieties we hope to be harvesting fresh apples for several months of the year. made weed control in a developing garden much easier and, once the garden is well established, it will be relatively low-maintenance. My parents are passionate about organics and biodynamics, believing we are what we eat. They wanted the garden to provide the very best and freshest food for their family. Saying that, we believe too much of the food we buy now is tampered with in some way, whether by pesticides, herbicides or genetic modification. With more than 25 different fruiting trees and eight raised vegetable beds, the garden produces year-round fruit and vegetables
for our enjoyment. In fact, with seven apple varieties we hope to be harvesting fresh apples for several months of the year.
Wildlife & plant life A mix of indigenous and exotic plants attracts native wildlife. The tiny, nectarfeeding Eastern Spinebill has taken up residence in the bay tree and can be seen feeding on the salvias and penstemon in the cottage-style front garden. Spotted Pardalotes enjoy the nesting opportunities in hollow logs and between the large
rocks, while numerous frogs have taken up residence in the two billabongs. Bees are drawn to the various flowering plants and blue-tongued lizards appreciate the hiding places between the larger rocks. Not all animals are welcome in the garden, though; rabbits are in plague proportions in the area. But, thanks to new boundary fencing, the height of the raised vegetable beds and the use of some barriers to protect young plants during establishment, we seem to have stopped rabbits actually living on the property. The occasional one still finds its ď § Good Organic Gardening | 23
GARDENING FOLK | Chloe Thomson A garden for Chloe’s family to enjoy and tend together
Attracting pollinators like bees is vital in the organic garden
way in but at least it can’t ravage my vegie garden any more. Our vegetable garden is one of my favourite spots. The metre-high raised beds, made from golden cypress (Cupressus
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macrocarpa), were filled using the lasagne technique of repeated layers of organic matter, rich soil and organic pea straw. It has been a challenge getting some true organic life into these new beds — my old
vegetable beds used to be teeming with worms. A combination of worm castings, green manure crops and certified organic fertilisers has been employed to put some organic oomph back into the soil. I’m looking forward to seeing how this year’s garlic harvest compares to the rather small and sad bulbs from last year’s crop grown in the virgin beds. There are numerous relatively uncommon edibles in the garden that my mum in particular is very proud of, including native finger limes, Tasmanian myrtus berries, pomegranates and oak trees that have had their roots impregnated with Périgord truffle spores. We’ve not harvested any truffles yet but there are promises of something in the future, as the oak trees are starting to show the distinctive ring of “burnt” grass, or brûlé, a circle of relatively bare dirt around the base of each tree, suggesting truffle growth beneath. At up to $65 or more per kilo, here’s hoping! In December 2012, the Chook Mahal was added to enclose an area of the orchard trees and, of course, provide a home for our nine chooks. In keeping with our love of the
Chloe Thomson | GARDENING FOLK A house is not a home unless happy hens roam
The family transformed the run-down bungalow and surrounded it with an organic garden
The Chook Mahal was added to enclose an area of the orchard trees and provide a home for our nine chooks. In keeping with our love of the unusual, we have several interesting breeds including Coronation Sussex, Barnevelder, Lavender Araucana and Plymouth Rock. unusual, we have several interesting breeds including Coronation Sussex, Barnevelder, Lavender Araucana and Plymouth Rock. Although they’re not all laying yet, I look forward to collecting the blue-tinted eggs from the Araucanas and, thanks to our resident rooster, we hope to have a few batches of chicks for Remi to enjoy raising.
Healthy soil, living water Improving the overall soil health of the gardens is an ongoing task and, given the clay loam we have, it’s at times a challenging one. In the heat of summer, the soil dries rock hard and cracks, making it hydrophobic. During the winter time it can become waterlogged and in high-traffic areas it gets compacted when wet. Generous applications of homemade compost, worm castings, dolomite lime and organic fertilisers are needed on all areas of the garden. My parents also love to use the biodynamic 500 preparation once a year; I have childhood memories of stuffing cows’
horns to make it but these days they buy it when needed. There are two billabongs within the gardens and each features a flow-form waterfall. As well as sounding beautiful, the water flowing through these handmade pieces moves in a manner that is supposed to “emulate the swirls and vortices of a mountain stream, enabling water to reoxygenate, revitalise and rejuvenate, bringing it back to its more natural state”. It’s worth checking www.livingwaterflowforms.com for information if you are interested. Water, its catchment and use, has played a big part in the design of the garden. Dry creek beds have been used to channel excess surface water into a low-lying billabong for reabsorption into the soil. Not being connected to mains water or sewage, we have two 35,000-litre tanks to collect rainwater from the roof. Our greywater passes through a worm and sand purification system. The attached UV lighting system, which purifies it, makes it suitable for irrigation. The irrigation
system is all sub-surface and can be programmed to suit the season. Each year, this system saves us thousands of dollars in water overuse and allows the garden to flourish over summer. Our garden is our passion and we look forward to each season and watching our organic space thrive.
Chloe’s tips 1. Plant mixed beds, using companion plants and fragrant flowers to attract “beneficials”. 2. Apply fortnightly doses of “worm juice” from a worm farm if you have one. (It’s worth getting a worm farm.) 3. Sow green manure crops in autumn and/or late spring to improve your soil. 4. If you are inundated with an oversupply from a particular fruit or vegetable, find a preserving recipe that will allow you to enjoy your crop even when it’s no longer in season.
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GARDENING FOLK | Lynette Hadson & Mikala Five Chocolate capsicum
Mikala (left) and Lyn , the proud gardeners
The story of Keewatin — “The Northwest Wind” — a small yet abundantly productive organic garden in the heart of Wingham
e purchased Keewatin, a rambling, character-filled house in the quintessential country town of Wingham, in 2001. The third-of-an-acre block (about 1300 square metres) was on a rocky ridge with minimal topsoil. In a mere 12 years, what was once a barren suburban yard has been transformed into a productive garden and peaceful haven — a vibrant area of vegetable gardens and water gardens filled with fruit trees and ornamentals. It was no easy feat; it took determination and hard work to develop Keewatin into the
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wonderful, productive space it has become. The garden consists of herb beds, natives, succulents and cottage garden plants and in the corner we built the “chook palace”. These are all integrated to form microclimates, shelter belts and shade areas, which create wonderful contrasts of foliage colour and different leaf textures.
In the garden Our organic garden overflows with produce year round and here is a proud summary of what we have. Our fruit-bearing trees comprise two mandarins, a naval orange, a lemon, lime, black fig, persimmon and mango. We have
Photos by Diane Norris
Words by Lynette Hadson & Mikala Five
Lynette Hadson & Mikala Five | GARDENING FOLK A flourishing crop of fresh chilli
The garden is based on a commitment to sustainability and an organic growing ethos. We compost vegetable scraps, prunings, lawn clippings, coﬀee grounds from the local cafe, washed seaweed collected from the beach and used straw from the chook palace. two nicely espaliered plum trees, two pecan nuts, a macadamia, two weeping mulberry trees and a sapote tree. Our edible herb collection includes lemon balm, stevia, curry bush, oregano, thyme, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. There is a handsome bay tree, too. Aromatics and medicinal plants are significant and hold great importance to us. Patchouli, mugwort, evening primrose, comfrey (great in the compost, too), borage, dogbane and mint grow profusely, as do bergamot, soapwort, squill, an olive bush and the ever-popular nasturtium. The land was almost a clean slate to start with. The soil had to be built up and garden beds were developed using Esther Dean’s no-dig garden principles. This tried-and-true method means newspapers are put down and organic matter heaped on top to build up a soil structure. The garden is arranged into areas or “rooms”. The recycling centre has four compost bins and also the chook palace, with Henoble and Henamel the resident chooks. We consider this the industrial area of the garden.
A spade load of rich, worm-filled compost
The lettuce spot
This leads into the two vegetable gardens with fruit trees and a large herb bed. And from there it glides into the next section, which has the ornamentals, water gardens and a variety of more unusual plants and succulents.
The hard yards The garden is based on a commitment to sustainability and an organic growing ethos. We compost vegetable scraps, prunings, lawn clippings, coffee grounds from the local cafe, washed seaweed collected from the beach and used straw from the chook palace. These give the garden beds a repeated boost. Harvesting water via a rainwater tank and water wells in the vegetable beds are ways of minimising water use. We blanket each bed with a thick layer of mulch to prevent the soil from drying out and to discourage weeds. By following basic permaculture values, we have developed a productive organic patch. The raised beds are beneficial in adding organic matter for soil structure as well as to help slow down water run-off in wet weather. We can get more than 100mL of rain in Good Organic Gardening | 27
GARDENING FOLK | Lynette Hadson & Mikala Five
The hens are allowed closely structured time in the garden as they can dig up everything in a scratching, worm-getting frenzy. just eight hours if there is a low weather depression sitting off the coast. The vegetable gardens follow a threestage cycle: the “medieval method”. In the initial stage, beds are built up with organic matter — chook poo — then seeds or seedlings are planted. In the second cycle, plants grow and a crop is achieved and harvested. During the third phase, the hens are allowed to scavenge over the soil for a few days and then the soil is heavily mulched to prevent weeds and regain nutrients and soil structure. It then lies fallow for a few months before the cycle starts again.
Organic, naturally The garden grows on organic values and poisons aren’t used. The hens are allowed
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closely structured time in the garden as they can dig up everything in a scratching, worm-getting frenzy. We know our hens are good for pest control but they can also be counterproductive due to their destructive enthusiasm. Companion planting has given mixed results for pest control. The vegetables are planted in random patterns to confuse the pests. Marigolds are allowed to self-sow to prevent nematodes in the soil. Snails aren’t bothersome as there is a resident native bluetongued lizard that gourmandises on them. It’s always a pleasure to share the produce we grow. Too often people say, “Why grow vegetables as they all mature at the same time and can’t be eaten?” Share them; give them away to friends and neighbours. There’s nothing better than picking the makings for a
Mikala with a favourite hen
Lynette Hadson & Mikala Five | GARDENING FOLK Basil flowers attract helpful bees; at right, an espaliered plum
Lyn and Mikala’s tips
Edible ground cover: Lyn checks the peanuts
great salad, grown in your own garden, after a day at work. In spring, the garden gives silverbeet, cauliflower, garlic, carrots, artichokes, broccoli, eggplant, strawberries and peanuts. The foliage plants complement the garden and offer more than a brief flowering period. They create depth and height and a striking visual frame. Deciduous trees create mulch in autumn and open up the understorey to more
light during the winter months. Little borders of box hedging, pigface and forget-me-nots (self-sown rapidly) add another dimension, giving some parts of the garden a slightly formal feel. There is always something among the diverse range of plants to provide interest and pull you in. Our garden is healthy, vital and organic and brings untold peace and joy to our lives.
• Make friends with your local cafe owner and get coffee grounds for the compost — as much as you can. We obtain up to 30kg per month and the worms love it. (Don’t worry about the sugar sachets; they will decompose.) • Coffee grounds mixed with finely chopped orange peel deter ants and sometimes remove them altogether. Sprinkle the mix as needed. • Going to the beach? Always take a bucket to gather seaweed, which you wash and add to your compost bins. It’s full of minerals. • Compost bins should be turned fortnightly to aerate. This is the food source for the soil and will be ready to use in two months. • Just a couple of marigold plants go a long way. They add colour and provide pyrethrum deterrent for flying insects while the roots prevent nematodes. • Don’t be afraid of letting lettuce and rocket go to seed. It’s amazing where they will resurface as healthy plants. • Always remember, “Whoever plants a garden plants happiness.”
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GARDENING FOLK | Ian Nash
A landscape gardener, Ian specialises in the restoration and maintenance of traditional homestead gardens. From this he has learnt the clever use of hardy plants and waterwise techniques that are as as relevant today as when originally established a century ago. Ian credits his current passions with growing up with backyard chooks and a productive garden. He recalls, “I never gave the backyard two-acre house block (almost one hectare) in much thought; it was simply where food came Teesdale in rural Victoria. from. It was an area Dad called his own and Ian has combined his love of horticulture was a well-organised, high-producing garden.” with an equal passion for purebred fowls. His He says it was also the starting point for stunning Silkies and Hamburg chickens have his love of nature and that he wants kids spacious, well-maintained yards and, in the today to experience this. It’s one of the
For this landscaper and former nurseryman, traditional gardening is all about food, fun and fowls Words by Megg Miller magine the havoc an errant broody hen and chicks could create in a pictureperfect vegie and flower garden. Though not a regular catastrophe for Ian Nash, it’s one of the challenges he works with on his
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Photos courtesy of Marcel Aucar
A bloke and
main, the birds are kept separate from the gardening area.
Ian Nash | GARDENING FOLK Ian uses straw bales for compost hubs and as raised garden beds
reasons he runs workshops with children on keeping chooks and starting a vegie garden. “It’s thanks to Dad and his garden that I went on to do a four-year horticultural course,” says Ian. “I realised I could have a good outdoor job creating and maintaining gardens and also put fresh food on the table. I hope I can inspire a few kids to follow a similar path.”
A rustic edging around some rainbow chard
Tackling the issues Once the land was purchased, Ian admits to great impatience to get started. He’d spent years working in retail nurseries and was ready to start his garden and freelance business. The block was a blank canvas with just a few established eucalypts. “I couldn’t rush in like I wanted to,” he says. “I knew I had to take the seasons into account. It’s hot and dry in summer; windy Good Organic Gardening | 31
GARDENING FOLK | Ian Nash Edibles plus artworks means a feast for the eye as well as the stomach
Tools at the ready for a day’s work
Ian is adamant an attractive garden can be established without costing the earth. He uses foliage plants extensively because they look good all year long. He sows in clumps rather than a single plant and repeats these again and again. and very cold in winter. Heavy falls of rain are common in winter and spring. These result in lots of topsoil being washed down the gently sloping land in the backyard and dictated the plan of the vegie beds.” “I knew, too, that with rocky soil it wouldn’t hold moisture well and so whatever I planted needed a low requirement for water.” Large-scale composting was a priority, so Ian quickly established poultry yards so he would have a regular supply of manure and litter. His gardening work gave him access to lawn clippings, prunings and other organic matter.
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After trying several methods of composting, he settled on building large rectangles with straw bales and filling the centre with poultry litter, green waste from his work, animal manures plus blood and bone and certified organic Dynamic Lifter. This was well mixed and dug, kept moist and turned at six weeks; the process continuing until ready.
A growing plan The garden has evolved slowly: lots of natives and succulents in the front of the house and a range of feature gardens,
trimmed hedges, fruit trees and the food and flower areas in the backyard. Ian says it’s all a reflection of the plants he wanted and where he could establish them. A friend contributed ideas, offering a different perspective, but time and understanding of local growing conditions have largely determined the style and scope of the garden. Vegie gardens and flowerbeds have been raised and bordered with rocks. There are no disciplined rows such as Ian’s father favoured; irregular shapes appear haphazardly placed but are pivotal in slowing the flow of water after heavy rain. Ian thinks outside the square. The garden design is unconventional: eye-catching sculptures from recycled materials like barbed wire and wooden fence posts are strategically sited, while formal and informal elements, such as hedged natives and colourful bulbs, grow side by side. You almost need a map to find your way through the meandering paths in the vegie area. Growth is abundant due to the fertile soil and herbs vie with cut flowers for space alongside broad beans, rocket, caulies and cabbages, silverbeet and root veg. These beds are a riot of colour: purples and greens, blue flowering borage, multicoloured silverbeet, kale — the list is endless. Thymes of different colours grow over retaining rocks, rosemary and curry plants may be hedged and shaped — there are delightful surprises wherever you turn. Extensive bay tree hedging is becoming established on the southern edge as a wind barrier but Ian also hopes it keeps adventurous hens from discovering the nearby vegies.
Ian Nash | GARDENING FOLK A chook with a look of its own: one of Ian’s favourites, a Silkie
Ian’s natural, informal garden wonderland
Succulents and garden art oddities
Imagination & balance Ian is adamant an attractive garden can be established without costing the earth. He uses foliage plants extensively because they look good all year long. He sows in clumps rather than a single plant and repeats these again and again. Extra interest is achieved with contrasting hues of green or foliage texture. Then there’s the hedging that creates neat formal pockets. Drought-tolerant homestead plants, like geraniums, are scattered everywhere. Natives, including correas, grafted grevillea (they are hardier), small wattles and even a boab tree are thriving. Another standby is succulents. “I love their sculptural quality,” Ian says. “They are hardy and useful for smothering weeds. Many flower over winter, which is great for bees. I’m mad about succulents and could create a garden with these alone.” We can all benefit from Ian’s strategies, including raised beds, which improve the organic content of soil and prevent plants, especially natives, suffering wet feet. Selecting appropriate plants is a must. Hardy grey-leafed natives and cottage favourites are ideal where water is short. Succulents are an option. Group plants with similar water needs together. Spring classics such as hollyhocks,
foxgloves and delphiniums grow in Ian’s garden alongside water-loving vegetables. Paths can be spread with gravel, which is easy to weed and maintain and, if shovelled around succulents, suppresses weed growth. Practices like crop rotation, self-seeding and even saving your own seed are sustainable and cost-effective. Bees are integral for pollination, so selecting flowers and herbs that bloom one after another keeps these helpful insects visiting. The Iceland poppies Ian grew last year proved a great magnet. Sustainability is a key driver for Ian Nash but he admits gardening has to be fun, too. His colourful, verdant Eden suggests he has the balance right.
Ian’s top tips • To attract bees, plant flowers and herbs that bloom at different times of the year. • Don’t be afraid to use edible plants, like bay trees, in a more formal way; for instance, as hedging. • Always have a compost hub of some sort. • Organic gardening is not just for the vegie patch; it applies to the overall garden.
There are no disciplined rows such as Ian’s father favoured; irregular shapes appear haphazardly placed but are pivotal in slowing the ﬂow of water after heavy rain. Good Organic Gardening | 33
TIME TO PLANT | Pineapple Sage grows to just over a metre tall with spikes of pretty red flowers that begin to appear from late summer and last through autumn and into winter. Even the flowers have a tangy citrus-mint taste and can be used to add flavour and interest to salads and drinks.
Common sage (Salvia officinalis)
(Salvia rutilans) This herb is at least as lovely for its aroma as it is for its ﬂavour Words by Melissa King
ub a pineapple sage leaf between your fingers or just brush against the foliage and the sweet pineapplelike fragrance will transport you to a tropical paradise. OK, that might sound a little over the top, but the resulting fruity, tropical scent and flavour are really lovely. In my opinion, this is an underutilised and unappreciated herb. We tend to put most herbs in the “savoury” category, but this is one herb that is right at home in the sweets
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section. In fact, the leaves bring a delightful fruity tang to cakes and desserts. I’ve even been known to float the leaves in summer “mocktails” or just plain sparkling water, to add that bit of extra zing. The foliage can even be used as a substitute for common sage in chicken and pork dishes. In Mexico, the herb’s country of origin, the leaves are used to make a tea to help ease anxiety. While you would grow pineapple sage in the garden for its flavour alone, don’t forget it’s also an attractive perennial shrub that
Best spot: Pineapple sage enjoys full sun or part shade and well-drained soil. It likes to be protected from cold, strong winds. Harvest: The leaves can be picked at any time of year, but frost will knock the foliage around a bit. The flowers can be harvested during autumn and winter. Care: Prune — quite heavily if you want to — after flowering to promote bushiness. Tip: Try freezing pineapple sage flowers in ice-cubes and adding them to mocktails and cool summer drinks.
Photos by iStock & Diane Norris
To eliminate confusion here is the more recognisable sage plant, a versatile culinary herb that has long been known to possess significant medicinal powers as well. A perennial that likes plenty of sun and good drainage, it has soft, fleshy, grey-green leaves with a pebbled surface. It’s not easy to grow from seed but can be propagated from cuttings. The plant can become quite woody in time so will need to be cut back to promote fresh, new growth.
Mint | TIME TO PLANT
Mint (Mentha species) Nothing can substitute for the fresh taste of mints in both savoury and sweet dishes Words by Melissa King
int has a reputation for being, shall we say, “over-enthusiastic” and taking over your garden, but don’t let that put you off growing it, especially if you confine it in a pot all of its own on the patio or in a container below ground in the garden. On the upside, it’s fast growing, easy to grow and extremely versatile in the kitchen. Mint comes in so many forms it can be hard to keep track of them. What a choice, starting with spearmint, peppermint and common mint, which most of us are familiar with, followed by chocolate mint, apple mint and pineapple mint, which make up the who’s who of sweet dessert herbs. Even lemon and ginger mint, which both make a lovely soothing tea, don’t even complete the list. The uses for mint in the kitchen are equally diverse, from cool minty drinks to mango mint salsa, honey mint glazed lamb and mint chocolate chip ice-cream. You can even add leaves to the bath for a natural pick-me-up before a big night out. Mint generally flowers through the warmer months and the flowers are very edible, tasting the same as the leaves though much milder in flavour. You can pinch out mint flowers before they develop to promote more leafy growth.
Photo by Diane Norris
Best spot: Mint thrives in a moist, shady spot, but also in full sun. Mint is best grown in a big pot. If you’d like to grow it in the garden, try putting it in a pot first and then bury the whole lot into a garden bed. Harvest: Pick fresh mint as you need it or hang it in bunches to dry. Tip-prune regularly to promote new growth. Tip: Most mints die back and look ratty through winter, so don’t be afraid to give your plants a good haircut. You can be certain of fresh growth again in spring.
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GARDEN SOLUTIONS | Pest patrol
Aphids Words by Diane Norris
phids, scale, mealybug and whiteflies are closely related — they are all sap-sucking insects. They also produce honeydew, a sweet, sticky liquid that oozes from them as they suck plant juices from various plant parts. One problem is that wherever the sugary honeydew solution lands (on leaves, fruit or stems) sooty mould can take hold. This ashen-looking fungus does not infect plants but can interfere with photosynthesis, affecting plant growth and causing leaf drop and unsightly, sooty-coated foliage and fruit. Aphids are especially common on roses but can also affect plants in the vegie garden. They particularly like beans, peas, melons, cucumbers, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, potatoes and cabbages. Apart from sucking, they can transmit diseases to many edible crops when they move from plant to plant. Their actions can result in young foliage looking distorted or curled. Leaves become yellowed and growth becomes stunted.
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These soft-bodied insects are about 2.5mm long and usually wingless and pearshaped. They can be green, black, grey or milky-cream in colour, depending on climatic zone, species and host plants. They have tiny mouth parts perfectly designed to suck the juices from plants. The aphid life cycle is unusual in that females give birth to live young and can do so without mating. Aphids lie dormant through winter as eggs and hatch in spring as wingless females. The females quickly disperse the next generation of aphids and the cycle continues throughout the growing season. Be warned: these pests reproduce quickly.
Organic control 1. Use your fingertips or a soft, moist cloth and simply wipe aphids from stems and/or foliage. This is a little time consuming but very easily done and the effect is immediate. Monitor every day or two and repeat until you stop seeing them. 2. Wash these little sap-suckers off with a strong jet of water from a hose. Again, you
may need to check back after a couple of days to see if there are any more aphids on your plants. You can then wipe off the soaked aphids with gloved hands or prune the damaged shoots or foliage. 3. Attract beneficial insects to your garden by planting flowering annuals and companion plants and letting your herbs go to flower. Most predatory insects, such as ladybird beetles, hoverflies, parasitic wasps and lacewings, love aphids. You can buy ladybirds from insect breeders like Bugs For Bugs (www.bugsforbugs.com.au). Being voracious predators, ladybirds will clean up an aphid infestation in no time. It’s important to realise that pesticides, even organic ones, kill not just the pests but also the beneficial insects. 4. Leave ants alone. Ants will not bring aphids to a plant; in fact, the aphids are usually there first. Ants are attracted to the sweet honeydew produced by aphids as they suck sap. Trying to keep ants out of a garden is impossible but it’s good to know they are useful decomposers and predators that drag aphids away.
Photos by Bigstock & Diane Norris
Often strongly associated with roses, these pests can wreak havoc in the vegie garden, too
Pest patrol | GARDEN SOLUTIONS
5. Refrain from over-fertilising plants. When you give aphid-infested plants too much nitrogen-rich fertiliser, you’re merely adding to the aphids’ feed and that in turn will increase their numbers. 6. Weed your vegie patch or ornamental gardens regularly and keep a lookout for aphids as you go. 7. Prune shoots from plants that are heavily infested with aphids — cut them from the plant, aphids and all, and bin them. 8. Apply Eco-Oil, neem oil, horticultural oil or soapy spray. These products work on contact with aphids but you may need one or more applications. Look under leaves, too, as that’s where they often like to hide. 9. Homemade recipe: Spray on two tablespoons of pure soap flakes mixed with one litre of warm water.
Nature’s helpers Aphids are attacked by a wide range of predators including parasitic wasps, ladybirds, lacewings and hoverflies. Growing suitable flowers, like Good Bug Mix, throughout the year will help to maintain the numbers of beneficial insects.
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GARDEN SOLUTIONS | Pest patrol
White curl grub Incorrectly known as lawn grub, this pest does damage not only to lawn areas but also to garden beds and pots
any organic gardeners like green space, too, but sometimes lawn areas are attacked by pests such as white curl grub. However, there are some great preventive measures and organic solutions to deal with this pest,. White curl grub, scarab beetle larvae, lawn beetle larvae or cockchafer are all correct common names for the juvenile stage of lawn beetle. They are also sometimes incorrectly referred to as lawn grubs and some people call them witchetty grubs, which are the wood-feeding larvae of two families of giant Australian moth. If you want to check whether white curl grub is in your garden beds or lawn (particularly new turf), simply place some wet hessian on a patch overnight. By early morning, the grubs should have surfaced and will be easy to spot. They are plump, C-shaped, whitish grubs with orange heads. Their bodies look a little segmented and their three pairs of legs are near the head. They are around 4–5cm when uncurled. These larvae infiltrate garden beds, pots and lawn areas and feed on plant and lawn roots, which inevitably causes damage to the plant. The scarab beetles they come from lay eggs and can be a problem year round, particularly in warm, wet weather from November to May.
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If white curl grubs have infected lawn areas, the telltale signs are easy to spot: general yellowing, then browning of the grass, followed by patchy death of lawn areas. You may also notice green or brown droppings on lawn areas and white moths flying closely over grass at sunset. If you have an infestation, you’ll need to take action. In garden beds or plant containers, the signs are less obvious and you may only notice them when you disturb the soil.
Prevention Native birds Years ago, when I was involved in the Safer Solutions program, a school oval was infested with white curl grub. Over a few weeks, they were completely eradicated by a flock of white ibis who took up residence there, digging and eating the grubs. Of course, these large birds may not congregate in your garden but other birds should be encouraged, as they find these fat, white grubs a delicacy. Encourage them by planting native trees and shrubs and install a birdbath that contains fresh water daily. Magpies, kookaburras and grey thrush are a few of the native birds that can spot, dig up and eat curl grubs. That’s why it’s so important not to use chemical sprays. If you spray a pesticide to control curl grubs, the birds may be poisoned as well.
To give the birds a helping hand, pour a bucket of cool, soapy water made with a biodegradable detergent onto affected lawn areas or into pots. The larvae and beetles will migrate to the surface where they become easy pickings for birds. It’s worth mentioning that free-range poultry will also keep white curl grub numbers in check. Mowing height Mow lawns higher — about 4cm. For those who like to scalp lawn areas, this may seem a bit long but it pays dividends in a number of ways. Both beetles and moths love laying their eggs as close to the soil as possible, so longer grass discourages them. The added bonus is that grass with a decent length reduces water usage and keeps lawns healthier in summer. Also, weeds are less likely to take hold. Watering White curl grubs flourish in a moist environment. The soil in which grass or lawn grows doesn’t need to be constantly moist. Water deeply and only when necessary — when the grass is showing signs it needs a drink. Your lawn areas will become more drought tolerant and much less appealing to white curl grub. However, this method is impractical for potted plants.
Photos by Diane Norris
Words by Diane Norris
Pest patrol | GARDEN SOLUTIONS Aeration for lawns Healthy plants need good soil to grow strong roots and grass is no exception. Regular lawn aeration is needed. You can use a garden fork or long-handled cultivator to do the job. Aeration will encourage a deep root system that’s far more resilient to grub attack. Prick the surface of the lawn area or gently push the spiky cultivator over the grass without dislodging it.
White curl grub is the larval stage of the scarab beetle
Predatory wasps Several species of wasps lay their eggs inside beetle larvae which, eventually, kill the grubs. You may not be comfortable with wasps nesting in your garden but they are one of nature’s most valuable predatory insects. Fertiliser After white curl grub have done their damage, help your lawn and other plants recover by applying an organically registered seaweed solution every 2–4 weeks.
Organic control If those prevention methods are not absolutely satisfactory, there are a couple of control methods considered safe to use in the organic garden. These should be a last resort, though.
Effective control of white curl grub is only achievable with insect-killing nematodes, otherwise known as entomopathogenic nematodes (ENs). They are safe to handle and safe for plants and are active only against specific soil-dwelling insects, such as grubs. These nematodes were commercialised in 1999 after extensive research by the CSIRO
Division of Entomology in Canberra. Bacillus thuringiensis is a biological (bacterial) control marketed as Dipel. It’s important to follow the instructions on the packaging. The solution is considered safe for bees, fish, birds and pets, and can be applied to vegetables, fruits and other plants. It contains no poisons. ■
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GARDENING TIPS | 10 Top Tips Flowering trees, herbs and plants like lavender attract bees
flowers. These last for many weeks and can be picked and dried to put inside in a dried arrangement. They fade over time to a lovely, soft silver ball of fluff.
Weedy sorrel means acidity
Weedy sorrel is an indicator of acidity in the soil. Use lime or dolomite to “sweeten” the soil and the sorrel should lose its vigour. A pH soil-testing kit will give an accurate level of acidity in soil.
Flowers for salads
Nasturtiums are great companion plants because they attract beneficial insects to your vegie garden. The flowers are a colourful and tasty addition to salads with their nice peppery flavour.
An interesting perch for birds can be created by driving two old forks into the ground and using them as a support for a strong horizontal stick. Birds can safely perch here and feed on whatever you wish to offer them. It’s still contentious whether to feed native birds or not: they could become dependent on you and may starve if you suddenly stop feeding them — when you go on holidays, for example. Rustic bird perch: add feeder if you like
Top Tips Great ideas from successful gardeners Words by Rosemary & Arthur Lathouris
Protect your pumpkins from very hot sun and early frost. When your pumpkins are developing, they can be burnt on very hot days if the leaves of the plant are not covering the fruit. Use shadecloth (or any material will do) to cover them as the skin can burn — just like human skin. Similarly, when your pumpkins are ripening in late autumn, make sure they are covered if there is risk of an early frost. In both these cases, the damaged skin can deteriorate, become mouldy and even rot. Damaged pumpkins will not store into the winter.
If a few artichokes go past the edible stage, leave them to grow and you will be rewarded with beautiful blue-mauve
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Photos by Diane Norris
10 Top Tips | GARDENING TIPS
Bring in the bees
Attract bees to your garden by planting a range of flowers they love. Herbs such as thyme, lavender, oregano and peppermint are good for both nectar and pollen while currants, raspberries and blueberries are desirable, too. Trees such as apples are attractive to bees in their flowering season, as are citrus, such as lemon, which can flower several times a year.
Employ stringent hygiene practices after you have used saws and secateurs to cut out diseased plant material. Wipe tools with disinfectant, rinse well and allow to dry. Spores and infections can be carried to other plants if you don’t take care.
Codling moth trap
Codling moth cocoons overwinter on the ground in bark or crevices under apple trees. When the caterpillar leaves the fruit, it moves down the trunk searching for a suitable place to spin a cocoon. Smear organic palm oil or beeswax generously on the trunk of the tree below a band of
corrugated cardboard and this will help to force the larvae into the cardboard bands. You can remove the cardboard occasionally and squash the cocoons. This barrier can also stop the moths climbing into the tree from the ground.
Hang tomatoes under cover to ripen on the vine
Tomatoes for longer
Tomato plants can have an extended production season even when the weather turns cold earlier than usual. Dig up the whole plant and lay it out in a shed or under cover, or even hang indoors, and the green tomatoes will slowly ripen as the vine dies.
Join and enjoy
Join a community garden — you’ll find it a great place to share knowledge and introduce novice gardeners to good practices. If you are an experienced gardener, you may be pleasantly surprised that you are regarded as a great source of information and advice. On the other hand, newcomers are always welcomed and can learn without having to use trial-and-error methods. Companionship while working in the garden makes tedious jobs much more enjoyable.
Join a community garden and share the knowledge
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WEEKEND GARDENING | Propagation Soft-tip cutting from a young gardenia shoot
entire seedhead into the bag or envelop and carefully close without crushing the seedhead. Place in a cool, dry, airy place until you are ready to use. Annuals are some of the best and most popular plants to grow from home-saved seed but bulbs, perennials and even some shrubs and trees can give equally good results.
Propagation — using your vegies, herbs or other garden plants to breed new ones — can be the most interesting and rewarding of all garden pastimes Words & photos by Diane Norris reeding your own plants can be a very worthwhile and satisfying thing to do in your garden and it’s relatively easy once you know all the basics. Plus, it will undoubtedly enhance your understanding of your garden and reignite your enthusiasm. There are several methods by which you can reproduce plants. The easiest and main methods of propagation for home gardeners are by seed, cuttings, division or layering.
Seed The most common way in which flowering plants reproduce and nature’s way of ensuring plant species are perpetuated is by seed. Because of pollination by birds or insects,
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variations in genetic combinations may happen, allowing plants to adapt to their environments and enabling plant breeders to cross-pollinate to create cultivars with new or desirable characteristics. Plants grown from seed, therefore, may not be identical to the parent plant if cross-pollination between different plants occurs. Collecting seed Choose a dry, windless day to collect your seeds. Select a healthy, pest- and diseasefree plant whose seedpods look as if they’re about to split open. To avoid dropping any seed, cut off the entire seedhead. Have a clean paper bag or envelope at the ready, labelled so you know what seed type you are about to store in it. Invert the
Cuttings Breeding new plants from cuttings is a common means of propagation and ensures that offspring are identical to the parent plant. Taking a cutting involves taking a small part of the mature plant and getting it to root. There are three main types: stem, leaf and root. Stem cuttings Stem cuttings can be taken from softwood (tip), semi-hardwood or hardwood, depending on the species from which they are harvested.
Photos by Diane Norris
Sowing seed For germination to occur, seeds need water, air, warmth and light. The growing medium needs to be a fine seed-raising mix, which you can buy from garden centres or large hardware outlets. Don’t skimp; specialised seed-raising mix is formulated especially to provide seeds with the optimum medium needed for growing and surviving. Fill a flat seed tray with seed-raising mix. Gently press down until it becomes flat, pushing out any air pockets. Thinly sprinkle seeds over the level soil then cover with a thin film of seed-raising mix. Mist with water (a hand-held sprayer bottle is best) to moisten the soil well. Watering is crucial and the seed-raising mix should never be allowed to dry out or become waterlogged. Cover your seed tray with glass or plastic and set in a warm spot. Every day, check the seeds’ progress and make sure the soil is moist. Within a couple of weeks you will see little green “heads” popping through the soil. It won’t be long before you have seedlings. When these little plants become large enough for you to handle confidently, you can start planting them into little pots: 75mm eco or biodegradable pots are best. This needs to be done to encourage individually strong and healthy seedlings. Use a certified organic potting mix in each of the pots and plant one little seedling per pot. Discard any that look feeble. Place in a warm, sheltered position for one or two weeks and keep gently watered. Allow the plants to grow to a size suitable for potting into a large container or planting straight into the vegie patch.
Propagation| Softwood or soft-tip cuttings are taken from the young, vigorous shoots of current-season growth. Usually 5–10cm long, taken in spring or early summer, stem cuttings are used for many common shrubby pants (fuchsia, pelargonium, azalea, gardenia, hypericum), some herbaceous perennials and many herbs. Semi-hardwood cuttings are 15–20cm side shoots of mature but not woody stems, taken largely in midsummer from shrubs with harder stems such as hydrangea and many evergreens, including lavender and conifers. Some plants require a small “wound” on the stem and others, such as conifers, rosemary and natives like Leptospermum, require heeled cuttings. Pull off a side shoot with a heel or small sliver of old wood from the parent stem and trim the ragged edge of the heel. Hardwood cuttings are taken from the fully mature, woody stems of deciduous trees, shrubs, vines and some roses. They are taken in late autumn or winter when the plant is dormant. Leaf cuttings You can propagate some plants by full-leaf cuttings — that is, using the whole leaf with or without the leaf stalk — or sections of leaves may be taken as cuttings. These are often taken from indoor plants that don’t have a lot of stems. There’s a number of different types.
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Lightly mist seed tray with water
For thick, fleshy-leafed plants, cut the leaf stem near the base of the plant, trim the stem to 1–2cm and place in a hole made in potting mix, inserting up to the leaf. Place these around the outside of pots to prevent rotting. Cover the pot with plastic. You can take leaf bud cuttings from semimature wood. The cutting should consist of a piece of stem with the top cut made just above
a leaf and a growth bud in the axil. Insert the cutting so the bud is just above the surface of the soil mix. Reduce the leaf area if necessary. Cover the pot with a plastic or glass dome. Root cuttings Some herbaceous and some shrubby plants with thick, fleshy roots can be propagated this way. It’s a useful method of propagation
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WEEKEND GARDENING | Propagation for plants that won’t root easily from cuttings or division. This simple technique involves removing small sections of root from a plant to then use to propagate a number of new plants. Root cuttings need reasonable compost, a steady temperature and a bit of space. The one drawback, though minor, is that, unlike stem or leaf cuttings, root cuttings develop underground, so you can’t see what’s going on. Choose firm, healthy roots in the dormant season. It’s best to take them from plants that are two to three years old and established. Sections should be 5–10cm long and about pencil thickness. Give them a slanting cut at the base and a straight cut at the top. Trim lateral roots. Insert cuttings for their full length into potting mix so the top is just at the surface of the soil mix. Thinner roots can be placed horizontally 1cm below the soil surface. Root cuttings can be taken any time between September and March. Lift the parent plant, taking as much root as you can. Cut off portions of root from the parent plant using a sharp knife and divide these portions into several cuttings. Slice the roots into sections 1cm to 7.5cm in length. Thinner roots should be cut into slightly longer pieces. Place root cuttings on a tray of moist compost and cover with 1cm of compost. Once the shoots have emerged in the spring, lift the young plants carefully from the compost and repot.
Division Many perennials are propagated by dividing plants into two or more sections. This is an easy way to increase your stock and is also used for dividing overcrowded plants and rejuvenating old plants. Winter is usually the best time. Choose a cool day when the ground is damp. Dig up the whole plant, roots and all, or a large section of a very large clump. Divide by hand or lever it apart using two garden forks on large, tough clumps. A knife may be necessary to cut the crown. If the clump is very large, it’s advisable to discard the central portion and replant only the younger outer growth. Cut away any dead roots and woody shoots and pull out any weed roots. Add some fresh organic matter and replant or pot up for later planting. Water well. Fibrous or fleshy-rooted plants, such as clivia and agapanthus, can be pulled apart by hand. This can be done in spring or autumn. It’s better to replant young plants and discard the older ones. Wash away soil and trim off any rotten or damaged roots. In hot weather, cut off the long leaves of these sort of plants to reduce transpiration.
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Neat propagation table: a setting for seedlings
Plants with tuberous roots, such as day lily and peony, are divided by splitting into sections of three or four tubers, each with a strong growth bud. Plants with rhizomes, such as bearded iris and bergenia, are divided by taking a young root piece from the main rhizome. This is best done in spring. Dig up the rhizomes and, using a sharp knife, cut off healthy side growths with strong growth buds or new shoots and healthy roots. Discard the old ones, removing any rotten parts and dead leaves, and replant with the roots facing downward.
necessary, trim off several of the leaves to give a clear length of stem along the section to be embedded in the soil. Using a knife, make a slanting cut (called “wounding”) through the underside of the stem at a leaf joint, which will provide the opening from which roots will sprout. Be careful not to cut more than half the width of the stem. The cut can be kept slightly open with a sliver of wood. Dig out a small hole or trench about 5cm (2in) deep using a hand trowel. It may be a good idea to add some organic compost, as it will provide the best medium for the new young roots that will grow from the cut. Layering Gently press the prepared length of stem Layering is a simple form of propagation into the trench or hole; the little nick will open that involves bending a low branch or shoot slightly, which is exactly what is needed to down to soil level, “wounding” the shoot, then happen. The implanted stem can be held in covering this section of branch with soil to place by pinning it into the soil with a forked encourage it to take root. When the root has twig or small piece of wire bent into a U shape. grown it can then be severed from its parent Cover the stem with new soil mixed with to produce a new plant. compost and gently firm down. The finished Many shrubs and small trees layer level of compost/soil mix should be slightly themselves naturally if a piece of branch close higher than the surrounding soil. You may to the ground is wounded and takes root. need to stop the stem from moving so you This rooted section can be severed from the can pop a stone or brick carefully on top. parent plant to form a new plant. Many plants Water the area well and keep it moist (eg rhododendron, magnolia, daphne and throughout the following growing season. gardenia) can be induced to do this. When a good root system has formed (three To layer, select a vigorous non-flowering months to two years, depending on the shoot that is thin, flexible and low-growing species), cut the branch from the parent so it can touch the soil easily, and bend branch. Leave it for a few weeks before lifting it into an S-shape towards the soil. If and transplanting.
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THE UNDERGROUND | Square Metre Gardening
Mel’s Mix By Mel Bartholomew y special growing mix is the backbone of the entire Square Metre Gardening (SMG) method. It is the reason all the other improvements are possible. So, please, pay careful attention so you can give your plants the best possible start and reap the benefits for years to come. Now, with my SMG method you’ll never have to do all the time-consuming, backbreaking labour of improving your garden soil every spring. Your Mel’s mix is ready to go whenever you are. It never has to be replaced and you don’t have to do any soil cultivation except plant your crops. Mel’s mix may be the most costly part of SMG, yet at the same time it is the most cost-effective. How can it be both? The answer: if you try to skimp on this item, you’ll be disappointed in all the rest. But if you do it right, all the other advantages of SMG will fall into place and you will be the richest gardener in your area. Sorry to be so adamant, but this is really what makes SMG so different and
46 | Good Organic Gardening
successful. We have never had a failure of SMG except when someone decided to skimp on the ingredients to save money. Let’s review what this perfect soil will do for your garden, then the why and how so you fully understand the nature of the mix. We’ll go through each of the three ingredients indicated: garden compost, peat moss and vermiculite. Then what each one is, why you need it and where to obtain it all. Then I’ll discuss how to mix, moisten and place it in your boxes. If you do it right, you’ll have the most enjoyable gardening experience of your life. That wonderful feeling will be repeated every time you plant and replant every single square. Your hand will just slip through the loose, easily worked, earthy-smelling soil, and you will sigh with happiness and smile every time. But enough talk and teasing — let’s get started!
So simple Square Metre Gardening is so simple you don’t have to learn all the intricate details of soil structure, texture and drainage. You don’t
even have to know what pH means, how to pronounce it or which letter is a capital and which is lower case (or why people are always getting that mixed up). Why, you may ask? Because I’ve designed a perfect growing mix that is suitable for just about all plants. For those of you who crave more information: the well-rotted garden compost balances out the acidity in the peat moss. In addition, since we don’t use your existing soil (remember, we only need a 15cm/6in depth of pure Mel’s mix), you won’t be concerned with what type of soil it is or what the pH is. You won’t have to buy a pH soil-test kit or take soil samples.
Things you once had to know Garden soil for traditional cultivation: • Structure • Drainage • Texture • Organic content • pH • Fertiliser
Photos from Square Metre Gardening by Mel Bartholomew
This extract from Mel Bartholomew’s bestselling book details his simple recipe for the perfect soil mix to have you raising your own produce and reducing your global footprint in no time
Square Metre Gardening | THE UNDERGROUND Square Metre Gardening ...
... easy for everyone
... makes growing your own plants ...
• Digging • Weeding
All you have to know now Mel’s simple formula for Square Metre Gardening: • ⅓ garden compost • ⅓ peat moss • ⅓ vermiculite
Mix equal parts of each, measured by volume not by weight. No fertiliser, no worry. Mel’s mix has all the nutrients, minerals and trace elements that plants need. So you can forget all about adding extra fertiliser. Isn’t that amazing? Not only do you not have to buy it, you don’t even have to learn about it. After the initial setup and filling of the boxes, in subsequent years you’ll find there is no work to do; there is no going to
the garden centre reading labels, lugging big bags or bales of soil-improvers home, no working in lime, getting a rotary hoe working and trying to turn over that wet, mucky soil. Why, you don’t even have to do the soil-ball test in the palm of your hand only to find out you have to wait another week because your soil is too wet or still frozen. What’s the soilball test, you ask? I’m not going to tell you because now you don’t need to know.
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THE UNDERGROUND | Square Metre Gardening Mel’s method takes the hard work out of vegie gardening
were inexpensive, readily available and able to hold just the right amount of moisture for plants while not becoming too soggy for roots, which would be fatal for your plants. I created a formula that holds moisture, yet drains well. At first this seemed like an impossible task, but then I thought about sponges. When you take a dry sponge and slowly add water to it, the sponge just keeps soaking up water until it’s finally saturated. At that point, any extra water just drains out the bottom. Well, it turns out that two of our ingredients, peat moss and vermiculite, do exactly that same thing. It may take a while to wet them and keep them moist, so you have to keep adding water, but finally, when they become saturated, any excess water just drains right out the bottom. Peat moss and vermiculite are sold at garden centres, DIY stores and online horticultural suppliers. Extracted from Square Metre Gardening, by Mel Bartholomew. Available from www. exislepublishing.com and all good book stores. RRP$29.99
Your Mel’s mix is always ready to plant, no matter what the weather. It’s always loose, friable (which the experts define as that which is easily worked, ie good and crumbly) and ready for the right time of year to plant. It drains and becomes unfrozen so much quicker than regular garden soil.
Where have you been? Planting a garden will no longer depend on when the soil is ready but only on the right date to plant seeds and young plants. This is just one more simplification of gardening the Square Metre way. How does that all sound? Simple and easy, no work and no fuss. I have had people ask me, “Why weren’t you born 100 years ago so I could have started with Square Metre Gardening instead of having
48 | Good Organic Gardening
to do all the work of single-row gardening all my life?” Good question!
No digging By using Mel’s mix you completely eliminate all the hard work of digging and moving existing soil. All gardening in the past has been based upon improving your existing soil. Now you don’t have to know anything about soils. Just start with a perfect growing medium of ⅓ garden compost, ⅓ peat moss, and ⅓ vermiculite. All ingredients are measured by volume.
Like a sponge Through many experiments, I came up with the very best ingredients for that perfect growing soil. Of course, I made sure they
About the author: Mel Bartholomew is the creator of the Square Foot Gardening system. He is a retired engineer who saw the joys that come with gardening but also the problems associated with it. He spent years developing a system that would allow the average person to have the benefit of gardening without the typical headaches. He is an accomplished speaker and has written the bestselling gardening book of all time, All New Square Foot Gardening, which has now been adapted to metric in the new edition, Square Metre Gardening.
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THE SHED | Good Tools Tilling time: a handy cultivator
Words & photos by Diane Norris any of us already know what we need in terms of garden tools, but let’s go over the basics for those starting out. If you’re like many gardeners, you probably already have a few hand-me-downs and various bits and pieces. But, just as every good cook equips their kitchen well, the same applies to gardening. The range of tools now available is enormous, so the choice is somewhat daunting. Try to source the best you can afford. Be frugal, though, and buy only what you need. Tools need to be well constructed, durable and ergonomically designed. Good-quality tools can be quite expensive but with proper care will be around for many decades and won’t be damaged under pressure like cheaper ones. There are wooden-handled tools and more lightweight aluminium types, some made in Australia (still), while others, also of premium quality, come from Germany, Poland and England. Whether you’re digging a hole, raking up leaves or pruning, the job is always easier when you’re working with the right equipment. Our last issue covered pruning tools, so here’s a brief guide to what else is needed to make life easier in the organic garden. We will look at other gardening accessories — wheelbarrows, lawn mowers, mulchers, hoses and their fittings, clothing and gardening gloves — in a future issue.
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Essential tools Jobs in the garden are easier and done more eﬃciently if you stock your shed with good tools from the start. Try to buy the best you can aﬀord, as they will be with you for years to come 50 | Good Organic Gardening
Choosing tools When selecting tools, ensure they are sturdy, durable, functional and comfortable to use. Test them for weight while in the shop and make sure the length of the handle is suited
Good Tools | THE SHED Garden tools, if looked after, will last many years
Tool maintenance With proper care, your tools should last for decades. They should always be wiped down or washed to remove soil or mud after use and then stored in a shed or undercover. Wooden handles need wiping over with a cloth dipped in linseed oil every few months. Sharpen blades at least once a year or whenever you notice they are becoming blunt. Don’t stand tools on their blades — hang or store them with their handles down. No matter how good your tools are, to work easily and efficiently they must be kept dry, lubricated and sharp.
Garden forks A good fork is as important as a spade as it’s used for many different tasks. When autumn comes, gardeners need to work the ground thoroughly in preparation for the following year and a good digging fork will be worth its weight in gold. Use your fork to dig up weedy soil and separate the weeds by shaking them vigorously, dislodging all the dirt from their roots. Forks are designed to make turning the soil easy and they allow you to mix in compost and manures well. Never try to dig earth that is rock-hard with a garden fork until it is softened by rain or watering.
An old half fork/ half hoe: look for ingenious oddities
to your build. Some tools can easily be adjusted to suit more than one gardener if they have a twisting lever adjustment on the handle that allows the tool to be shortened or lengthened. Some are ergonomically designed and others are angled to reduce stress on the wrist. WOLF-Garten produces a range of tool heads that fit onto the one handle. One or two handles in different lengths allow you to interchange at will. These are particularly useful if storage space is limited. Speaking of storage, always keep your garden tools and equipment in a shed, under a carport or somewhere out of the weather as the elements will damage them. Consider installing a tool rack, which can be as simple as nails or screwing hooks hammered into a wooden beam, so you can hang your tools up and off the ground. Shelves are also handy.
The essentials Spades and shovels Unless you have a totally no-dig garden, a good spade and shovel are essential. They serve a variety of purposes, from breaking soil and shifting compost to mixing concrete and scooping leaves. A spade generally has a relatively flat blade, straight edges and, usually, a shorter handle than a shovel. Spades are better suited to moving material such as soil, sand or mulch. Shovels usually have longer handles to get deep into holes and a rounded or pointed blade, though the square-blade shovel is gaining popularity. For most people, a 72cm handle length is ideal. The best blades are made from stainless steel and the best handles are hardwood. The top of the handle, where your hands grip, can be T-shaped or D-shaped, so you need to choose which feels best for you.
Hand tools Hand tools are essentially small working tools that suit digging around and planting in more confined spaces or working with smaller plants. The main types of hand tools include the trowel (a little spade), the hand fork, the hand cultivator (like a clawed fork) and various sorts of scoops. It’s also possible to get hand forks and trowels with long handles. The best are made of stainless steel. Secateurs A detailed coverage of pruning tools was in our last issue but the need for a good pair of secateurs cannot be overstated. Secateurs are small, easy-to-use cutters that come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and applications. They are one-handed, two-bladed devices for cutting material up to about 15–20mm in diameter. Typically, the cutting blade is on the upper side with the leverage from the lower blade. Look for ergonomic design and sturdy construction with a comfortable feel, weight and size. Make sure there is a safety catch Good Organic Gardening | 51
THE SHED | Good Tools and that replaceable blades are available, preferably of stainless steel, so you can sharpen or change them. There are also ratchet-operated secateurs designed for gardeners with arthritis or hand/wrist injuries. Garden knife Knives may not enjoy the glory of other tools but a garden knife is useful for many tasks, from cutting twine, opening bags, dividing plants and cutting rootballs to harvesting fruit and vegies. You can buy specialised garden knives but an old kitchen or bread knife serves the purpose well. Hoes Hoes are for the backbreaking job of scraping out weeds without having to bend down to pull them out. There are several types of hoes — square, wide, V-shaped and bar-shaped — and they all do an excellent job. Generally, a rolled-steel blade riveted to a wooden handle will be the sturdiest.
Tools must be • Sharp • Sturdy • Comfortable to use
Mattocks A mattock is a hand tool with a chisel-like blade at one end of the head and a broad blade at the other end. It is particularly good for digging or breaking up moderately hard ground or removing strong tree roots or stumps. The broad-bladed end can be used as a hoe as well. Look for a strong hardwood handle that sits securely in the mattock head. Rakes There are many different rakes but generally there are three main types: garden rakes, lawn rakes and leaf rakes. • Garden rakes are mainly used for moving or levelling soil. • Lawn rakes are similar but have stronger, sturdier, heavier heads. • Leaf rakes, as the name suggests, are for raking up leaves. Cultivators A garden cultivator is used to till soil and break up the top layer of dirt. It can also be used to mix soils with manures and fertilisers in preparation for planting. Freshly tilling the soil leaves ample room for nutrients, air and water to flow around the plant’s roots. This is also beneficial for decreasing the likelihood of weeds.
Some cultivators are hand tools. They may have a fixed-prong head or a rotating mechanism that acts like a mini-tiller, and a sturdy metal or wooden handle. Other garden cultivators are powered by small motors and controlled by an operator walking behind them. They cultivate the soil and break up lumps and clumps. These are ideal for large gardens. ■
Essential garden tools • Spade • Fork • Hand tools • Secateurs • Gardening knife • Hoe • Mattock • Garden rake • Cultivator Garden rake
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THINGS TO DO | September
SEPTEMBER Spring is so aptly named. Plants really do spring out of the ground as the days lengthen and temperatures warm. September is an exciting time, with plants to go in the ground and a garden to feed and nurture By Jennifer Stackhouse Vegie patch
Water newly planted fruit trees regularly as temperatures rise. Remember to finish planting bare-rooted deciduous fruit plants or they’ll start to grow where they’ve been left. Prune and feed overgrown passionfruit vines to encourage vigorous new growth. Also feed other fruiting plants, including citrus and avocado, as the fruit sets.
COOL & TEMPERATE As soils warm and frosts recede, it’s safe to plant summer crops. Sow seeds or plant out seedlings of chilli, capsicum, tomato, eggplant, cucumber (see more on cucumbers on page 14), pumpkin, squash, zucchini and beans. Also plant lettuce and herbs, including basil and coriander. In cool to mild areas, chance a crop of broad beans, broccoli and English spinach. Where late frosts are likely, delay planting frost-sensitive crops such as tomatoes for a few weeks.
TROPICAL In hot areas, fruiting trees such as citrus and lychees may appreciate light shade, especially as they establish. If birds and insects regularly destroy fruit crops, grow fruiting trees and shrubs in a large, netted area. Spring is a good time to start a crop of rosellas. These small shrubs produce red hibiscus-like flowers that are used for jams and preserves.
Note on seed sowing Check viability of stored seeds (see the use-by date on the packet) and remember to plant saved seed from last year’s crops. Seed that’s been poorly stored — for example, exposed to heat, moisture or air — may have poor viability. When seeds sown directly into garden beds fail to germinate, try another sowing in punnets and keep the punnets in a warm spot such as a foam vegetable box or seed germinator. Low soil temperatures can prevent germination, so also try again in a few weeks’ time. Weeds aren’t so fussy. Keep on top of germinating weeds by regularly hoeing between the rows in the vegie patch.
54 | Good Organic Gardening
Compost & soil
COOL & TEMPERATE Dig in green manure crops that have been growing over winter before they flower and seed. Also get the compost heap revved up as the weather warms by turning it to let in more air and by adding a few spades of manure. Throwing a cover over the heap will help it warm up on a sunny day.
COOL & TEMPERATE Peach leaf curl affects peaches, nectarines and apricots and must be prevented with the use of a copper spray before the leaves appear. If trees have leafed up, it’s too late to treat. Affected leaves become distorted then drop. Feed and water any affected trees well to encourage a healthy crop of new leaves.
TROPICAL Where soil drainage is poor during the long wet summer, make raised rows or beds, especially in the vegie patch or orchard, to assist drainage and reduce root-rot diseases. Spread compost under fruiting trees and renew mulches to protect soils and reduce weeds — but not too close to the trunk.
and humidity, including beans, cucumbers and Chinese greens. Try cherry varieties as these are less prone to problems than larger forms. Herbs really prefer a dry climate so do better in pots, where they can be assured of good drainage and shelter from tropical downpours.
Photos by Arthur Lathouris & Diane Norris
TROPICAL As the dry season nears its end, switch to planting vegies that tolerate increased rain
September | THINGS TO DO
4 1 If seeds sown directly in garden beds donâ€™t germinate, try sowing in punnets 2 In tropical areas, grow edibles in a large netted area to protect from wildlife 3 Finish planting bare-rooted deciduous fruit plants 4 In cool or temperate areas, plant lettuce seedlings now 5 Prune and feed overgrown passionfruit vines to encourage vigorous new growth
Good Organic Gardening | 55
THINGS TO DO | October
OCTOBER Conditions are now much warmer everywhere, so water productive plants regularly, especially those in ﬂower or forming fruit By Jennifer Stackhouse TROPICAL Bait for fruit fly with organically safe baits, like Eco-Naturalure, and pick fruiting crops regularly to try to beat the birds. When planting fruit trees, combine a handful of dolomite along with generous spadefuls of compost before planting. Enrich the top 30cm of soil, as this is the area where most roots will feed and seek water. If conditions are likely to become waterlogged through summer, plant fruit trees into slightly raised beds to allow better drainage.
Vegie patch COOL & TEMPERATE Keep crops coming in succession by starting a second crop of summer vegies to extend harvests into late summer. Pay attention to crops already growing vigorously by tying tomatoes to stakes and training climbing beans and cucumbers onto a tepee or trellis. To help shade crops as summer arrives, sow a row of sunflowers along the western side of your vegie patch, or use this space for a block of corn. TROPICAL Sweet potato makes an excellent weedsuppressing groundcover and shoots or sprouted tubers can be planted now. If your family likes sweet corn, plant seeds or seedlings now. For best results from this wind-pollinated plant, sow corn in blocks at least a metre square rather than in long rows. Also plant beans now. Snake beans do very
A lack of bees in the garden can lead to poor fruit set. Attract bees by planting lots of flowering herbs, such as basil and borage, along with flowers such as daisies and lavender. If the bees are scarce and you already have pumpkin and squash blooming, try handpollination by using a small paintbrush or a cotton bud to transfer pollen from the male to female flowers. Gently shaking or vibrating tomato plants is usually enough to aid their pollination.
56 | Good Organic Gardening
well in hot climates but should be trained on to a support such as a trellis.
COOL & TEMPERATE Where the soil or subsoil contains clay and is prone to waterlogging in periods of heavy rain, always dig a test hole before planting new plants. Fill the hole with water and monitor how long the water takes to drain away. If it is still there after eight or more hours it will be necessary to improve drainage before planting. Improve drainage with gypsum and organic matter dug through the soil. An alternative is to plant into a raised bed or mound rather than dig into the soil.
Fruit COOL & TEMPERATE In areas where fruit fly is a problem, it’s time to start monitoring and baiting these pests, especially around plums, apricots, peaches and nectarines that are starting to ripen. Use organically friendly baits such as EcoNaturalure, replenishing after rain. Also set up pheromone traps to monitor for codling moth in apples and pears.
TROPICAL Grow groundcovers and prostrate plants to cover the soil with a green alternative to mulch. Even grass can help protect soils from erosion caused by heavy rain. For a dense cover, select plants that form roots as they grow. Groundcovers can also help to keep soils cool and discourage weed growth. Groundcover plants grow quickly at this time of the year.
Photos by Bigstock & Diane Norris
Note on pollination
Compost & soil
October | THINGS TO DO
2 3 1 Stake young tomato plants 2 Flowering herbs such as basil attract bees to your garden 3 Plant tall sunflowers on western side to shade vegies from afternoon sun 4 Plant corn in blocks rather than in rows 5 Train climbing beans up stakes, teepees or onto a trellis 6 If bees are scare try hand pollination with a small paintbrush 7 Sprouted organic sweet potato tubers can be planted now
Good Organic Gardening | 57
FEATHERED FRIENDS | Meat Chickens Chickens should Hamburgs be rubust, bright eyed and curious about their world
CHICKEN WITH CARE Words by Megg Miller aising homegrown chicken ticks a number of boxes. You get to reduce some food miles, know that the birds have not been fed pharmaceuticals or unnecessary additives and you’re able to offer quality of life, even if it is a short one. The experience will also provide an opportunity to see first hand some of the environmental issues of producing poultry meat, albeit on a mini scale. It’s not necessary to be based in the country to raise meat chickens. All you need is a room or shed with power to run a light and heat globe and keep the brooder box of chicks safe from cats, kids and cold draughts. As the chicks grow — this is surprisingly speedy — they will need an outdoor pen or shed plus a small area to wander in, peck grass and enjoy a dustbath. Lots of city dwellers
58 | Good Organic Gardening
committed to sustainability raise a batch or two of chicks each year in small backyards. Meat chickens raised commercially are ready for despatch in just 42 days. Your chicks will mature more slowly if you allow them to access a grassed area and enjoy activities such as scratching and walking. They are slower maturing because exercise burns energy and distractions lure chickens from the feeder. The same bloodlines that are ready for the chop at 5–6 weeks at a commercial operation may take up to nine weeks in the backyard.
Realities explained Friends who regularly raise and despatch meat chickens have costed out the exercise at $23 per bird. An organically raised chicken of a similar weight would cost around $30, so the project isn’t a financial blowout.
The hurdle for most people is despatch. There is no shame in deciding you’re not up to it but careful planning to co-opt a friend, neighbour or country relative with experience is necessary. It is unforgivable to inflict suffering on the birds. A glimmer of hope is offered by the recent release of a chook-despatching device that breaks the neck quickly and humanely. The manufacturers say they were confronted by lack of skill when their meat birds were due for despatching and sought a more acceptable option to inept axemanship. More details can be found at www.morriganfarm.com.au.
What to feed Selecting feed may also present a dilemma. Should you buy organic or take pot luck with the specialty feed offered at your local
Photos courtesy of Marcel Aucar
Raising chickens for meat is a diﬀerent proposition. If you are considering it, here are some things you should know
Meat Chickens | In winter, even chickens of this size appreciate warmth at night from the heat globe
FEATHERED FRIENDS Chickens gather at the self feeder in the outdoor run
Even a few hours outdoors for sunning and scratching can be beneficial
A wanderer in the garden — or just scratching for bugs?
produce store? Most certified organic feed comes from Queensland and so the issue of food miles must be weighed against the importance of using organic rations. The chicks will initially require a starter crumble and then graduate to a finisher for the last couple of weeks.
Setting up Requirements are simple: a brooder box, an ongoing supply of litter for the floor, a heat source, feed and a feeder, and a drinker. A cardboard box (about 600mm long × 400mm wide and 350mm high) makes an
ideal brooder for 12–15 chicks for the first weeks. Subsequent boxes need to be larger to allow for increased body size and activity. A thick wad of newspaper on the box base aids warmth. Absorbent litter, such as chemical-free sawdust or rice hulls, is placed on top of the paper to a depth of 3–5cm. A drinker with a shallow lip (to prevent drowning) and a durable automatic feeder should be obtained. Heat is supplied by a ceramic infrared globe suspended above the brooder box. A metal shade is advisable as it directs heat downwards. The globe will be raised
The chickens will be deliriously happy if they can range in the backyard. They crush plants rather than scratch vigorously and will ingest bugs, seeds and greens. Good Organic Gardening | 59
FEATHERED FRIENDS | Meat Chickens These chickens are ready for a larger box because there is minimal room for activity
One third grown and you can see the cobby shape emerging
Meat chick sources Bond Enterprises Website: www.bondenterprises.com.au Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (07) 4697 7800 Peak Poultry Supplies Website: www.freewebs.com/ peakpoultrysupplies Email: email@example.com Phone: (07) 5467 2882
The hurdle for most people is despatch. There is no shame in deciding you’re not up to it, but careful planning to co-opt a friend, neighbour or country relative with experience is necessary. It is unforgivable to inﬂict suﬀering on the birds. a couple of centimetres weekly as the chicks grow and toughen up.
What to expect The chicks will travel by plane or bus from the hatchery, so have the brooder box warm to welcome them. Dip each chick’s beak in water and observe drinking before releasing into the brooder. To encourage feeding, cover litter temporarily with newspaper (in case they mistakenly eat it) and sprinkle chick starter over it. A pinch of canary seed will attract attention. Once chicks have found the feeder, the newspaper can be removed. Observe chicks daily. If bottoms appear pasted up, remove poo with a moistened cloth. Ensure any slow chicks get access to feed and water. Cracked wheat can be introduced by the end of the second week: a flat teaspoonful per chick. This helps develop the gizzard, which
60 | Good Organic Gardening
is part of the digestive tract and critical for boosting the immune system. Fibre from the cracked wheat, as well as in finely cut grass, helps prevent feather pecking. Give a tablespoon of grass, 1–1½cm long, daily from the seventh day. Increase volume of grain and greens as chicks grow. Excessively wet droppings can be firmed up by sprinkling a little slippery elm powder on top of crumbles. The high feed and water intake of the chickens produces the wet droppings.
Barter & Sons Hatchery Website: www.barterandsons.com.au Phone: (02) 4773 3222 Nulkaba Hatchery Website: www.poultryonline.com.au Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (02) 4991 2501
You can increase grains in their diet but don’t totally replace the proprietary feed. Discuss the grain options with your feed supplier.
Short but good life
Even in small batches, some birds grow faster than others. You may like to despatch the early maturers first. Some households find two birds is all they can manage at a time, while others set a day aside and bring in as many helpers as possible. By nine weeks, leg mobility may be challenged; the meat birds have not been Last weeks bred to make old age. Guidelines are usually The chickens not only grow speedily but sent with the chicks, advising on appropriate feather quickly, too, and can slowly be weights for despatch and covering other weaned off the heat from the ceramic globe. issues that may arise. They benefit from sunshine and exercise Of course, if you decide you would rather and will be deliriously happy if they can raise slower-growing chicks from traditional range in the backyard. They crush plants farm breeds next time, you can. There is a rather than scratch vigorously and will ingest handful of breeds to select from and rearing is bugs, seeds and greens. quite different. But that’s another story.
able n i a t s u s e. We believe r u t u f e h t s i orga nic farming ll as iss a small mia dam ad ca ic Mac nic rgan e Org oe N’ Ho nd ‘N’ the th and Ha H n i d ed t a at c oc o l s s ness ussiine us bu ned b wne amilly ow an fam alliian stra e Aust Au ne n y o oy b m o om Co C e h t th ff off est o ores ainffor ne rai ine tine isti prris te, p emote re W.. NSW t of NS s st a o oa c h t th r o or N d i id M , u eau, ea attte plla p n on ed o estte ves arv ha and h re han ts are nuts damia nu cada aca our mac ll ou d n Alll A a an s es oces proc lso pr m. We als farrm ed fa ere we pow ar po olla es ur so urre our ou enssu his en hi T . m r ar a f r ur u o n on o e g a ckag pack al pa m sea g cuum n in vacu va d id idi o oid vo v a s a as l l e el w ass y, a ty ity, alliity ua e qu ible ossssib po esst p he gh rrtt o he hiig po p th s n ns a y trra sarry essa ces ec nne to unn due to ntts du rin tpri otp oo on fo bon carrb ca orss. cesssso oc pro rom pr d fro to and to
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For more information contact Hand ‘N’ Hoe Organic Macadamias: PO Box 8 Wingham NSW 2429 • Phone/Fax: (02) 6550 5180 • Email: ﬂi64@reachnet.com.au
PROFESSIONAL ORGANICS | Hand’n’Hoe David inspects macadamias ready for harvest
A handful of fresh macadamia nuts
Words & photos by Diane Norris he Comboyne Plateau and its environs are unsurpassed in their variety of natural features, including deep, rich volcanic soil, breathtaking scenery, tall-timbered subtropical forests and unpolluted creeks and streams. All these combine to provide an idyllic setting for a number of organic or biodynamic farms that dot this unique landscape. This is the second story we bring you from this outstandingly beautiful and unspoiled part of Australia. I was invited to Wingham Farmers’ Markets in May, where I had the pleasure of meeting Tristan Flinter. He was manning a stall with a tempting array of macadamia nut products, many already familiar to me. As Tristan and I chatted, I learned from him the fascinating story of a thriving family-owned and -operated business, a story I knew at once needed to be shared with and enjoyed by our readers. First, though, I had to familiarise myself with what goes on at grassroots level and that involved a day-long visit to this special farm.
plantation Hidden in a remote, pristine rainforest on the Comboyne Plateau on the mid-north coast of NSW is a remarkable certiﬁed organic macadamia farm 62 | Good Organic Gardening
On arriving at Hand’N’Hoe I was met by owner David Flinter at the “front gate”. Then came a pleasant surprise: the 7km drive to his home and farm. And what a spectacular drive that was, along a meandering, leaf-littered dirt track that was gift wrapped in natural features. Gullies, gorges, distant escarpments and lush, tall-timbered forest greeted me, filling every sense with the beauty of an unspoiled natural environment. David and his wife Kerrie own and run Hand’N’Hoe along with two of their four children, Keiran and Tristan. Both David and Kerrie grew up in the bushland surrounding Sydney and believe they owe their love of nature to that early experience.
Hand’n’Hoe | PROFESSIONAL ORGANICS Hand’N’Hoe’s extensive product range
Nut shells are recycled as mulch
Nuts are harvested manually
David is proud of the fact that nothing foreign has been introduced onto the farm. They use their own soil and water and the property is solar powered. In 1979, David told me, he was looking for something more meaningful in his life as well as a new environment. After much painstaking exploration here and there he discovered this stunning 600-acre (around 240ha) parcel of land. The property is surrounded by the forests of Killabakh Nature Reserve, through which flows Dingo Creek, its waters untainted by human activity. All in all, it seemed that David had found perfection.
For the next few years, David and Kerrie would drive seven hours from Sydney to visit their paradise. The last 5km of rough dirt road into their property would take 40 minutes to navigate. But it was well worth it. By 1983, they’d moved permanently to the property, literally setting up camp there. For two years they lived in small tents; then, as time passed, they graduated to a larger one. But by that time a baby was on the way and they
needed more comfortable accommodation, so a timber shed was built on a hand-cleared spot using mainly material from the block. In 1985, the couple started building their present home, a comfortable, open-plan timber abode. The timbers were all handcrafted: no power tools; just handsaws, hammers and nails. They moved into the house in 1988. “We always thought an organic lifestyle was common sense and it didn’t seem
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PROFESSIONAL ORGANICS | Hand’n’Hoe Keiran cuts brush around the trees
unusual to us at all,” says David. “And that, of course, led us into our organic farm.” David and Kerrie were partners in their quest to start an organic farm, taking inspiration from permaculture principles set down by Bill Morrison. Permaculture involves growing food, building houses and creating communities with minimal environmental impact — the very principles David and Kerrie wanted to live by.
What to grow? David and Kerrie speak of the early “experimental phase” when they worked out what they wanted to grow. The idea was to plant a variety of fruiting trees to see which would perform best in their location. In a valley with near-perfect soil, adequate rainfall and protection from extreme weather, you’d think anything would grow. This turned out to be true but, if organic principles were to be applied and subsequent organic certification achieved, the crops had to be relatively disease and pest free, strong and vigorous. David explains what happened during the trial period. Citrus trees were great but vulnerable to borers; kiwifruit was OK but labour intensive and too “viny”; stonefruit were tried — peaches, plums, apricots — but the birds and wildlife helped themselves too actively and fruit fly was also an issue. Finally, they planted pecan nut trees and macadamias. The pecans were inconsistent and, like the citrus, had borer problems as well as attracting native rats. But the macadamia nut trees excelled. So that was the answer: Hand’N’Hoe was to be an organic macadamia farm. David is proud of the fact that nothing foreign has been introduced onto the farm. They use their own soil and water and
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Dehusking is fast and labour intensive
the property is solar powered. The whole sequence of growing, harvesting, processing and packaging is done by hand. Hand picking is labour intensive, as is the de-husking process, which David let me try. Hand-eye co-ordination is needed here, I must say! The trees are pruned when the nuts are harvested and undergrowth cut around the trunks and tracks. These clippings are left as mulch. When it comes to planting, there are many varieties (and cultivars) of macadamia to choose from. David and Kerrie agree that the process of choosing stock was quite challenging and they trialled many varieties. Says David, “Since we were among the most southern growers of macadamia nut trees, it came down to a lot of trial and error. For instance, we found, as expected, that the Byron Bay types of macadamia were unsuitable.” The varieties finally chosen were planted into allocated allotments spread widely over the acreage. This avoided the problems of a monoculture (one plant type) and allowed the trees to grow in the correct situations with plenty of space and light. All the trees are grafted. The best are ‘Nutty Glen’ and the newer variety, simply known as A4. There are also A16, A29, A38 and ‘One Choice’. Asked if they have a desire to develop their own cultivar down the track, David says that’s something they will consider but it’s a little way off yet.
Product range As with most organic goods, you will notice the labels have a natural earthy look. As Kerrie, who does the label design and manufacture, points out, “It’s 100 per cent vegetable ink printed on recycled card — natural all the way.”
As well as whole and half unsalted kernels, there is a range of macadamia butters available in natural crunchy, roasted crunchy, natural smooth and crunchy smooth. There is also extra-virgin macadamia oil. Value-adding has been one of the farm’s most rewarding and exciting progressions, with honey-roasted macadamias and chocolate-coated whole macadamias in white, milk or dark, “packaged with love”, as Kerrie puts it. And there is a range of organic honey and shortbread on the way. The farm, its products and processing are all Australian Certified Organic registered. Small-scale farmers like the Flinters are to be congratulated for their tenacity and dedication, particularly the organic growers and producers. As Kerrie and David point out, marketing is the hardest part of the job. But their business is steadily growing thanks to farmers’ markets and organic food stores nationwide stocking their Hand’N’Hoe goods. David and his sons travel near and far, covering Sydney at Eveleigh, Frenchs Forest, Castle Hill, Kirribilli and Lane Cove markets as well as markets at The Entrance, Newcastle, Gloucester and, of course, the monthly market at Wingham where this story began. My day at the farm ended with a brew of organic coffee and a feast of dark chocolatecoated macadamias, too moreish to resist. I came away with the thought that David, Kerrie and their family have enjoyed a privileged lifestyle, one surrounded by nature, beauty, community and like-minded people — quite simply, something to be envied. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/ pages/Hand-N-Hoe-Organic-Macadamias.
FROM GARDEN TO GLASS | Seasonal Juices
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When using a blender, all parts of the food remain in the drink, hence the need to core, peel etc. Blended food will have a thick result and is best for smoothies. Directions for juicing First, rinse your produce. You may peel anything with very tough skin. A small amount of rind on citrus imparts more zest, but never use the fruit with the whole peel as it is too strong. Cut produce into finger-sized pieces before putting each ingredient through your juicer and combining in a glass. Drink immediately. Directions for blending Rinse produce. Peel tough-skinned foods and core or remove the seeds from foods such as apples and pumpkins. Cut produce into finger-sized pieces and place all ingredients into the blender. Process for about two minutes or until completely smooth.
About the author: Nature’s Wonderland is a family-owned and -operated business, the result of years of dedication and innovation by four young siblings. From a single store in Warburton, Victoria, in 1996 to online since 1999, Nature’s Wonderland has built up a reputation with a diverse and highquality product portfolio, with only the most superior merchandise available.
Photo by Diane Norris
By Nature’s Wonderland Health and Wellness Store t’s spring and time for a fresh start. With everything starting to bloom and flourish, now is the perfect time to try out juicing or revive your old recipe collection with some new, fresh juices. Spring is a great time to try juice “cleanses” to give your body a head start for the warm weather ahead. Or you can add an energising drink to your daily meal — breakfast or lunch. Spring produce offers sweet and mild flavours bursting with goodness. Nothing is more refreshing — or healthier — than sipping a cool drink at lunch in the pleasant spring sunshine, so try some of our recipes and get your tastebuds inspired. When preparing these recipes, note the difference between juicing and blending. A juicer will separate juice from pulp automatically, eliminating the need to peel, remove seeds etc.
Seasonal Juices | FROM GARDEN TO GLASS
A beautiful red juice bursting with the flavour of fresh, tangy grapefruit and sweet carrots. This zesty juice is perfect to get you going in the morning.
Nothing is better than a glass of fresh orange juice. Give it a new twist with this great recipe, which adds a burst of zest with sour lemons, the unique flavour of ginger and the sweetness of grapes and raspberries.
Makes 2 servings 2 red grapefruit, peeled 5 carrots 2.5cm piece ginger Health benefits: Liquids in the morning are easy on your digestive system and great as an energy boost for the new day. The carrots and grapefruit deliver a blast of immunity-boosting vitamin C and enough fibre to sustain you until your first snack. Grapefruit is high in enzymes that burn fats and has high water content and low sodium. A combination of these three characteristics make grapefruit a perfect food for increasing your body’s metabolism and helping you to lose fat. (Note that grapefruit juice may intensify the action of some medications. Check with your doctor or pharmacist.)
Spring Shower Smoothie A rich, thick, satisfying smoothie that is perfect for breakfast or lunch. Use organic milk or your favourite vegan alternative, or try it with the honey cashew milk recipe (below) for a creamy honey-cinnamon experience.
Makes 1 serving Makes 2 servings 1 orange 1 cup grapes 1 lemon ½ cup raspberries ¼ tsp minced ginger Health benefits: Red grapes have strong antibacterial and antiviral properties and can protect you from infections, while light and white grape juice replenishes your iron content and helps prevent fatigue. Raspberries have significant levels of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals. These antioxidant compounds in berries have potential health benefits in fighting cancer, ageing, inflammation and neurodegenerative diseases.
2 cups nut milk (see Breezy Berry recipe) 1 avocado, peeled 1 banana, peeled 1 cup baby spinach leaves 1 apple, sliced Health benefits: Avocadoes are superfoods and among the best foods you can eat. Packed with nutrients and heart-healthy compounds, they can protect against eye disease, have a healthy fat content and can actually help you lose weight.
Breezy Berry This smoothie is creamy, sweet and absolutely scrumptious with delicious nutty cashew milk.
Fresh Forest This is a wonderful juice, full of a variety of different vegies and fruits, giving it a huge array of benefits. Try with fresh strawberries, blueberries or raspberries. Later in spring you may replace the pineapple with a variety of melons as they come into season.
Makes 1 serving
Another beautiful crimson juice, this unusual recipe calls for red cabbage, a vegetable that surprisingly tastes absolutely delicious and lends a gorgeous hue to this refreshing new recipe.
1 cup honey cashew milk ½ cup berries 1 banana, peeled ½ cup plain yoghurt
Makes 3 servings
Makes 3 servings
2 red apples 1 orange 2 celery stalks 2 medium carrots ½ cup berries 1 cup pineapple 1 leaf & stem of silverbeet 1 beetroot
½ medium red cabbage 1 large cucumber 2 pears ½ beetroot 2 stalks celery 2.5cm piece ginger
Health benefits: Packed with vitamins, antioxidants and minerals, this juice has it all. Apples help protect against Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases as well as cancer and diabetes. Berries are nutritional powerhouses that boast a variety of disease-fighting goodness. Pineapples contain manganese, a trace mineral that helps build and maintain healthy bones.
Health benefits: Red cabbage is one of the best vegetables for you. It helps lower cholesterol and may help lower the risk of many types of cancer. Red cabbage contains almost twice as much vitamin C as green cabbage. The flavonoids act as anti-inflammatories and play a therapeutic role in a number of diseases. Red cabbage is packed with fibre, vitamin K, vitamin B6, potassium and manganese.
To make the delicious honey cashew milk: Soak 1 cup cashews for 2 hours and strain. Place in blender with 2 cups water and blend until smooth. Strain well to remove pulp. To make smoothie: Put cashew milk in blender with 1 tbsp raw honey, 1 tbsp organic vanilla extract, 1 tsp cinnamon and blend again until silky smooth. Health benefits: About 75 per cent of cashews’ fat is unsaturated fatty acids, oleic acid making up the majority. Oleic acid promotes good cardiovascular health and improves overall health. Nuts are extremely high in antioxidants. Cashew milk is nutritious and power packed with B vitamins, magnesium, copper, selenium, zinc, vitamin E and phosphorus.
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GARDEN TO TABLE | Five Seasonal Edibles
Grow, harvest, store, preserve and cook with recipes by Simon Bryant
70 Artichokes Artichoke Tagine
74 Asparagus Asparagus Frittata with Goatâ€™s Curd & Oregano
78 Broad Beans Potato & Broad Bean Salad with Prosciutto & Mint
82 Peas Lentil & Pea Risotto Green Garden Soup
87 Cumquats Cumquat Marmalade Steamed Cumquat Pudding
91 Plant Profile Beans
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Five Seasonal Edibles | GARDEN TO TABLE
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Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus) Words by Jennifer Stackhouse
lobe artichokes are long-lived perennial vegetables, which means they grow, are harvested then die back to regrow again in spring from the same roots. They are part of the thistle family, which provides a clue as to how easy they are to grow and also tells you about the way they flower. We eat artichokes as flower buds. Left to bloom, they become inedible. Even as buds, however, the beginning of the thistle flower can be found in the part of the bud called the “choke”. As they grow as a clump, artichokes take up lots of space in the garden. They are also among the most striking of all vegetables, so it’s not unusual to see them growing in flower beds rather than banished to the vegie patch. Artichokes are native to the Mediterranean region and this remains their centre for commercial production. Although artichokes have been harvested in Europe and North Africa for thousands years, there are not many varieties available for Australian gardeners. Many are sold without a varietal name, although named varieties include ‘Green Globe’ and ‘Imperial Globe’ along with ‘Purple’ and ‘Violetto’, both with purple-tinged buds.
What you’re eating When you eat an artichoke you scrape the fleshy part off the bud scales and then eat the succulent heart of
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the unopened flower. It can be time-consuming to eat an artichoke but there’s a lot of good nutrition and great flavour. As well as being rich in dietary fibre, artichokes provide vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and other minerals. Before you apply butter or sauce to a lightly boiled artichoke, they are low in kilojules, providing around 105kJ per bud. But there’s more to an artichoke. The buds contain a chemical (an organic acid) which, for most people, alters the taste of water and wine. Water will taster sweeter than
Artichoke label Common name: Globe artichoke Botanical name: Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus Family: Asteraceae Aspect and soil: Sun to part shade; well-drained soil Best climate: Cool, Mediterranean, temperate Habit: Perennial clump to 1.5m high and 1m wide, flowers spring to autumn Propagation: Best from offshoots planted any time, or sow seed in spring Difficulty: Easy
Artichoke | GROWING
a small piece of stem attached — around 3cm is ideal. Expect to harvest about six artichokes in the first year of growth. Once the clump is established you’ll reap between eight and 30 or more buds from one large plant.
Storing and preserving Artichokes are best cooked and eaten as soon as they are picked, which is a good reason to grow some in the garden. If you do want to store the buds, they keep for a few days in a lidded container in the fridge. Artichokes can be preserved by removing the outer leaves and bottling the inner area known as the heart. They can also be frozen.
normal after you’ve eaten an artichoke but wine will lack its true taste, so serve artichokes with a jug of water and leave the wine until later in the meal.
Dipping Delight Recipe by Nature’s Wonderland Health and Wellness Store Makes about 3 cups
How to grow Artichokes can be grown from seed planted in spring but are more usually grown from dormant crowns planted in winter or from offsets: small plants produced on the edges of a clump, which are divided from the parent plant and replanted from late spring until autumn. If you know someone who is growing artichokes already, begging an offshoot or two is a great way to get plants started in your own garden. Plant offsets or crowns (sections of roots) into a garden bed that’s been prepared by digging in well-rotted compost. Allow lots of space between plants as each individual can measure 1m across. Plants grow up to 1.5m tall and each clump has lots of large, spiny leaves off stout, hairy stems. All that growth means artichokes grow best in rich, fertile soil. As the plants grow, they appreciate a few handfuls of potassium-rich fertiliser. They have a large root system, which also needs room to grow. Although plants wilt on hot, dry days, they bounce back with additional watering. A lack of water, especially at flowering time, can affect the size of the buds. In hotter areas, afternoon shade in summer reduces the need for extra watering. So, too, does keeping plants free of competing weeds and including a thin layer of organic mulch around each plant.
Ingredients 3½ cups rehydrated (see below) artichoke hearts, roughly chopped ½ cup grated parmesan cheese + extra 2 tbsp ¼ cup mayonnaise ¼ cup sour cream ½ tsp ground black pepper ½ tsp onion salt ½ tsp garlic, finely chopped 1 cup Italian cheese blend ¼ tsp paprika
Method 1. Blend artichoke, grated parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, pepper, onion salt, and garlic until smooth. Transfer mixture to ramekin or other suitable dish. 2. Sprinkle dip with extra 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese, Italian cheese and paprika. 3. Preheat oven to 190°C. Bake dip until heated through, about half an hour. Serve hot or cold with crackers or vegie dippers.
Dehydrate, rehydrate Troubleshooting There’s very little that troubles an artichoke. Its spiny leaves and tough buds render it impervious to most caterpillars and other pests. Plants that lack water or nutrients may produce fewer flower stems and have smaller, tougher buds. Poorly drained soil may lead to root rot, so in wet or humid areas grow artichokes in raised garden beds.
Harvesting Artichokes flower in spring with subsequent blooms through summer and autumn. The round, scaly buds must be harvested before they open. Any sign of a purple thistle at the top of the flower means it’s too late to harvest that bud. Use a sharp knife to pick the unopened buds with
Too many artichokes to use all at once? Try dehydrating them. Wash and remove the outer leaves. Cut the artichoke hearts into quarters. Steam-blanch them for 4 minutes, then drain well. Dehydrate at 40°C for 18 hours, or until dry and brittle. Store dried artichokes in a clean, dry, airtight container in a cool, dark location. The better the seal on the container, the longer they will store; try vacuum-sealing for best results. To rehydrate, simply soak in boiling water for about 15 minutes. Add a little lemon juice to help keep the colour if you like.
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COOKING| Artichoke with Simon Bryant
Star ingredient: Artichoke
Artichoke Tagine Recipe by Simon Bryant Serves 4 Handful coriander leaves & stems, roughly chopped Harissa to serve (optional)
Ingredients 100g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water 300g mograbiah (jumbo cous cous) Sea salt 100mL extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) 6 medium-sized artichokes Juice of 2 lemons 2 onions, chopped 2 cloves garlic, chopped 2 tsp ground coriander 1 tsp ground cumin 2 cinnamon sticks Pinch saffron threads 1 preserved lemon, pith & flesh removed, finely sliced 2 bay leaves 100g toasted almonds, chopped Cracked black pepper Loose handful flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
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1. Drain the chickpeas, discarding water. Place in a saucepan and cover with a few centimetres with cold water. Cook the chickpeas for about 50 mins until tender. Drain and set aside. 2. Cook the cous cous as you would pasta — ie, in plenty of salted water at a rolling boil. Give it 15 mins or until tender to the bite, drain, splash on a bit of EVOO and toss to prevent clumping. Cover to keep warm. 3. To prepare artichoke, pare down the stem a little with a peeler, cut the top third off, remove tough outer leaves and ease the hairy chokes out of the centres with a dessertspoon. Chuck into some water with a splash of lemon juice as you go to prevent oxidisation. 4. Simmer the “cleaned” artichokes for around 10 mins in salted water or until soft. Drain, slice in half lengthwise. 5. In a big frypan (or tagine), sauté onions and garlic in remaining oil until soft. Add spices, preserved lemon, bay leaves and sea salt and saute a minute or so. Add artichokes and chickpeas plus a couple of cups of water and simmer for about 15 mins. 6. Place cous cous on plates, top with chickpea/artichoke mix and sauce, sprinkle with toasted almonds, pepper, chopped parsley and coriander. Add a little harissa if you like.
Artichoke with Simon Bryant | COOKING
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GROWING | Asparagus
Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) Words by Jennifer Stackhouse
f you’ve ever wondered why this plant is called asparagus here’s the story I’ve heard. The name we use today is a corruption of “sparrow grass”, a mediaeval name for the plant that probably described the fact that this vegetable is harvested very early in spring. Asparagus is native to much of Europe, where it is an important early spring green. Wild asparagus is a delicacy harvested in early spring in parts of Italy. While asparagus has been introduced to Australia as a vegetable crop, it can be found growing wild in some parts of New South Wales, where it has naturalised around Griffith. There are also many forms of ornamental asparagus that have become weeds in Australia, including asparagus fern and bridal creeper, but these are not edible.
Good to eat The edible part of the asparagus is the tender new shoot. It appears like a green finger pointing out of the soil. If you’ve seen asparagus growing on a farm you’d
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be excused for thinking there was no crop and the field had been ploughed and left fallow. This is because the shoots are harvested each day and only allowed to grow to maturity later in the season.
Asparagus label Common name: Asparagus Botanical name: Asparagus officinalis Family: Asparagaceae (formerly Liliaceae) Aspect and soil: Sun to part shade; well-drained soil Best climate: Cool, Mediterranean, temperate, subtropical Habit: Herbaceous perennial 1–1.5m tall Propagation: Plant crowns in winter or sow seed in spring Difficulty: Moderate
Asparagus | GROWING
The mature asparagus is a woody stem with ferny green leaves. Asparagus plants have male and female flowers on separate plants. The botanic name for this is “dioecious”, literally meaning two houses. Female plants produce red berries. As the male plants grow with thicker stems, they are preferred in cultivation and female plants are usually removed from seed-grown crops. Over the years, plants have been selected for stem size and colour. ‘Mary Washington’ is commonly grown but, for something a little different, try the variety ‘Purple’, which has purple shoots, or the aptly named ‘Fat Bastard’. White asparagus isn’t a variety but is grown by blanching the stems. This is done by covering the row with at least 30cm of soil to exclude light. Fresh, homegrown asparagus is delicious but it is also packed with good nutrition in the form of vitamins A, B6 and C, along with some potassium. It also provides dietary fibre.
Harvesting, storing and preserving Use a long, sharp knife to harvest asparagus spears. They are cut below ground once the spears protrude 10–15cm above the soil. Cut spears each day as they quickly become woody. Spears appear from August until September and can be harvested for 10–12 weeks from mature plants. In some areas, an autumn crop can be grown, but cut the ferny growth back to ground level in late summer and feed and water the rows to encourage regrowth. It’s difficult not to eat all the asparagus you can harvest fresh from the garden, whether it’s raw or lightly steamed. If you do have excess, it can be kept fresh by standing the spears in a few centimetres of water and covering them with plastic. You should keep fresh asparagus in the refrigerator. Another way to store it for up to a week is to place the bunches upright in a glass with about 5cm of water. Cover with a plastic bag. To keep longer, blanch asparagus spears in boiling water, then freeze. Asparagus can also be bottled.
How to grow As a perennial, asparagus is a long-lived plant. Once established it can continue to grow and crop for 25 years or more. Plants are best grown in their own bed, planted in rows for ease of harvest. Select an open, sunny spot for an asparagus bed and prepare the soil before planting by digging in well-rotted manure and complete organic fertiliser such as blood and bone. Some growers recommend planting asparagus in a trench with a layer of well-rotted manure in its base. If this is done, cover the manure with a 5cm layer of soil to keep the asparagus out of direct contact with manure. Plant crowns in winter, burying them in the base of a shallow trench dug to about 30cm deep. If you don’t want to dig a trench, just dig a hole for each crown that’s about 30cm deep and wide enough to accommodate the crown’s root system. Each crown will have roots, which should be carefully spread out at planting. Space each crown about 45cm apart and then cover them with about 5cm of soil. As the crown begins to grow, cover it with more soil until the trench is filled. This style of planting is done to encourage deep roots. Don’t plan to eat fresh asparagus just yet. The young plants need their shoots to help them grow strong roots, so for the first two years simply let the shoots grow without harvesting any spears. Give a side dressing of fertiliser and manure in early summer to keep them growing. The ferny growth begins to yellow and die back in autumn. At this stage, cut the old growth to the ground. Keep the area weed-free. At the end of winter, hill soil over the rows to encourage long spears to grow.
Troubleshooting If plants are well grown for the first two to three years, there are few problems experienced with asparagus. Thin stems may indicate the plants lack nutrients or water, so lightly dig in an organic fertiliser around the plants and increase the amount of water you are providing. If your soil is heavy clay, grow asparagus in raised beds to avoid problems with waterlogging or root rot.
Spring Soup Recipe by Nature’s Wonderland Health and Wellness Store Serves 4
Ingredients 1kg asparagus, ends trimmed 2 tbsp olive oil ½ small onion, finely chopped 2 cloves garlic, chopped 2 cups vegetable broth/stock 1 tbsp raw cashews Black pepper & sea salt, to taste
Method 1. Cut the asparagus into roughly 3cm pieces. Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 3–4 mins or until soft. 2. Add the asparagus and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add 1½ cups of the broth and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 mins. 3. While the asparagus is cooking, blend the remaining ½ cup of the broth with the cashews and a bit of pepper until smooth. Leave in the blender. 4. When the asparagus mixture is done, place in the blender along with the cashews and broth, and salt to taste. Blend on high until perfectly smooth. This soup can be frozen in freezer containers or bags for up to a year. Make sure you leave some space to allow for expansion. Simply thaw and reheat in a pot on the stove. Garnish with orange peel and dill sprigs.
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COOKING | Asparagus with Simon Bryant
Star ingredient: Asparagus
Asparagus Frittata with Goat’s Curd & Oregano Recipe by Simon Bryant Serves 4 as a light meal with a salad
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6 free-range eggs 300mL cream ½ cup grated parmesan cheese Salt flakes & black pepper ½ onion, diced 3 cloves garlic, minced 60g butter 1 tsp dried oregano 1 bunch asparagus spears 100g goat’s curd
1. Mix eggs and cream, add parmesan and season with salt and pepper. In a saucepan, fry onion and garlic in butter until soft. Add dried oregano. 2. Chargrill asparagus spears until soft. 3. Grease a heavy pan (or ovenproof dish), pour in egg mix, add knobs of goat’s cheese and pop asparagus on top. 4. Bake in a moderate oven 15–30 mins (depending on how thick your frittata is; test with a skewer to see if cooked).
Asparagus with Simon Bryant| COOKING
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GROWING | Broad beans
Broad beans (Vicia faba) Words by Jennifer Stackhouse
love broad beans — but I am the first to admit they can be fiddly to prepare for cooking. Of course, if you grow your own crop, you can begin to harvest the broad beans when they are young and tender and eat them boiled or steamed, pod and all. Once the beans mature into the broad green pod that gives them their name, they taste better podded before they are cooked. I also remove the tough outer skin from the cooked broad bean to reveal the bright-green bean inside. From a nutritional point of view, broad beans provide vitamin C, iron and, of course, dietary fibre. To maximise their nutrition, eat the beans pod and all. Broad beans are both difficult to find and expensive to buy in the shops, so growing your own provides you with lots of this delicious and nutritious vegetable. As broad beans crop in winter and spring, they are also a valuable vegie to be harvesting when other crops (such as French beans and summer vegies) are still underway.
How to grow There are two main forms of broad beans: tall climbing broad beans, which need stakes for support or a trellis to climb on, and shorter, bushier varieties that need less staking. The tall growers, such as ‘Early Long Pod’ or ‘Aquadulce’, produce more beans over a longer period, but they do take up more room in the garden than the
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dwarf forms such as ‘Coles Prolific’. They can reach 2m in height. Dwarf forms can reach 1m. In true Jack and the Beanstalk style, climbing broad beans are handsome, vigorous plants with pretty white or pinky-red pea flowers that are seen before the large green pods appear. Indeed, they look so good, I’ve often admired broad beans growing happily in front gardens, especially if that’s the sunniest place to grow vegetables over winter. For something a little different, look for heritage varieties with coloured flowers, such as ‘Crimson
Broad bean label Common name: Broad bean Botanical name: Vicia faba Family: Fabaceae Aspect and soil: Sun; well-drained soil Best climate: Cool, Mediterranean, temperate, subtropical Habit: Annual climber or bush Propagation: Seed or cutting Difficulty: Easy
Broad beans | GROWING
may have strong growth but no beans for many months. The lack of pods is usually due to cool weather and both flowering and fruiting start as soon as the weather warms.
Harvesting, storing and preserving Harvest small pods at around 6–8cm to cook and eat whole like beans, or wait until the pods are large and plump to shell like peas. Each pod contains several large beans nestled in a fibrous shell. Add the pods to your chook bucket or compost heap. Pick the crop regularly to keep plants productive. Broad beans keep well when picked if they are popped in a plastic bag and stored in the refrigerator. Large, mature beans can also be shelled and the beans dried to be used in stews or soups. Shelled beans can also be blanched in boiling water, then frozen.
Flowered’ and ‘Black Flowered’ (more of a chocolatepurple colour than true black). Both varieties produce succulent green pods despite their flower colour. Broad beans are grown from seed planted from autumn to early spring. Plants crop in winter in frost-free zones but, in colder areas, flowering and fruiting may be delayed until spring. This is especially the case if the weather is very cold or frosty. In cool zones, broad beans planted in early spring may still be cropping in early summer. Sow broad bean seeds directly where they are to grow or start them in punnets filled with seed-raising mix, transplanting the seedlings into the garden once they are big enough to handle. Plant seeds or seedlings in rows or along a trellis or climbing frame. Dwarf varieties can usually be grown without staking individual plants but they may need some support. For example, use a bamboo cane or try planting them in a block, then surround the block with stakes and twine. Liquid-feed the growing plants regularly or apply a side dressing of organic fertiliser along the row as the plants grow. Broad beans are legumes, which means they add nitrogen to the soil as they grow. Make the most of this naturally produced fertiliser by following a crop of broad beans with leafy vegetables such as lettuce, silverbeet or spinach. Even when broad beans have finished cropping and are pulled out, they add nourishment to the compost heap. They can even be tossed into the chook shed to give your hens a nutritious feed.
Troubleshooting Broad beans have few problems, although aphids can attack the growing tips. These pests are easily controlled by squashing the little insects or by simply pinching out the aphid-infested growth. Many gardeners worry that their plants are not producing any pods. Plants can take 60–120 days to begin cropping but may be slower in cold weather. They
Broad Bean Blender Brownies Recipe by Nature’s Wonderland Health and Wellness Store These scrumptious fudge-like brownies are absolutely easy to make and gluten-free. They are moist, sweet and chocolatey; the perfect way to treat yourself if you need a gluten-free dessert or just have a lot of beans to use. Makes 1 serving
Ingredients 2¼ cups broad beans, shelled 4 large eggs ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1 tbsp vanilla 6 tbsp butter ½ tsp sea salt 1½ cup brown sugar 1 tsp baking powder ½ tsp baking soda
Method 1. Add beans and eggs to blender and blend until smooth. Add all the remaining ingredients and blend again until completely smooth and silky. Scrape down the sides occasionally to combine cocoa powder properly. Pour batter into a baking tray, muffin tin or ramekins. Place in oven at 160°C and bake for 35–40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out with only a few moist crumbs. 2. Store the brownies by slicing and individually wrapping each slice thoroughly with clingwrap. Place them in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, unwrap and let them stand at room temperature for 4–5 hours.
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| Broad beans with Simon Bryant
Star ingredient: Broad beans
Potato & Broad Bean Salad with Prosciutto & Mint Recipe by Simon Bryant Serves 4 as a side
Ingredients 500g waxy potatoes, whole 90mL EVOO Salt flakes Cup shelled broad beans 12 slices prosciutto Squeeze lemon 1 or 2 three-minute (soft) poached eggs Handful mint, ripped 1 tbsp seeded mustard Cracked black pepper
Method 1. Bring the potatoes to a simmer in salted water and cook for 15 or so mins until soft. Scoop out, cool and break into chunks. Toss with a little of the olive oil so they suck it up, then season with salt flakes. 2. Blanch the shelled broad beans in salted water for a couple of minutes until soft. Drain and toss in a little EVOO and salt. 3. Meanwhile, crisp up the prosciutto in a moderate oven by placing on a tray covered with baking paper for a few minutes. 4. Make a dressing with the remaining olive oil and lemon juice. 5. Place the spuds and beans in a bowl, dress and season. Add the eggs, ripped mint and prosciutto on top with a dollop of the mustard and pepper.
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Broad beans with Simon Bryant | COOKING
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GROWING | Peas
Peas (Pisum sativum) Words by Jennifer Stackhouse
hen I was a kid, shelling the peas was a regular occupation when I arrived home from school. I’d sit at the table with my mother or grandmother and chat while we slipped the round, green peas out of their pods and heard them plunk into the saucepan. A kilo of peas is a great conversation starter. It is now rare to find podded peas at the greengrocer, but there are plenty of bags of frozen peas in the freezer section of the supermarket. The only reason my own kids know peas come from pods is because we grew them in the garden. Children who won’t eat green vegies can usually be drawn into eating peas they’ve plucked straight from the garden. Immature green peas are very sweet. Indeed, snow peas — the flat, green peas you eat in the pod — are a good choice to grow to get children involved in gardening as they are delicious pod and all and crop very quickly. Snow peas are perhaps even easier to grow than main crop peas because they grow so fast. But all peas are easy to plant, quick to grow and, of course, can be picked and eaten straight from the plant. To keep a steady supply of peas, make several sowings through autumn and winter, selecting early-, mid- and late-season varieties such as ‘Earlicrop Massey’,
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‘Sugarsnap’ and the later-maturing ‘Telephone Pole’. Peas take 12–16 weeks from sowing to harvest. Snow peas can be producing pods in as little as 6–8 weeks after planting. The reason kids like eating fresh peas is because they are sweet and crunchy. If you can encourage the children (and the adults, too) to eat fresh peas they are getting protein, vitamin C, iron, niacin and zinc along with plenty of dietary fibre. Frozen peas, because most are frozen soon after picking, are also rich in these dietary goodies.
Peas label Common name: Peas, snow peas Botanical name: Pisum sativum Family: Fabaceae Aspect and soil: Sun; well-drained soil Best climate: All Habit: Annual climber Propagation: Seed or seedling Difficulty: Easy
Peas | GROWING
Peas have a reputation for being fattening. But this is undeserved, says nutritionist Rosemary Stanton, as a typical serve of peas, which is around 50g, has only 125kJ. A 50g serve of snow peas has just 70kJ.
How to grow Peas grow best through the cooler months of the year but snow peas can be planted well into spring to harvest in early summer. They are quick from seed or buy punnets of seedlings to plant. Peas of all sorts can be grown in vegetable gardens of all shapes and sizes. If you have the space, grow them on a trellis in the vegetable garden. If space is short, peas can be trained to grow up a tripod of stakes in a raised vegie bed or even in a large pot. For container growing, select a dwarf pea variety such as ‘Earlicrop Massey’. Peas are legumes, so they fix atmospheric nitrogen into the soil via the nodules on their roots. To maximise the nitrogen, plants are dug into the soil after harvest or even grown as a green manure crop through winter, then dug into the ground in spring. Pea straw (spent pea plants) makes a nutritious garden mulch and is often available in spring in bales from garden centres or produce suppliers. Sow seeds in a small hole or a drill (a furrow) 15–25mm deep. Space them about 5cm apart. Peas respond to wellprepared soils, so before sowing dig in organic fertiliser where the peas are to grow, incorporating it well into the soil to about 15cm depth so it’s available to the growing roots. Hose the soil so it’s damp at planting time.
Harvesting, storing and preserving Pick peas frequently to keep the vine productive. Peas are ready to harvest when they are plump and the pods are firm, but peas can be eaten when the pods are immature as baby peas (known in French as petit pois — literally, little peas). Peas keep well in their shells and can be stored wrapped in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Shelled peas can be bottled or frozen. Take a tip from food processors and freeze or bottle peas right after harvesting for maximum sweetness. Old peas at the end of the season can be gathered and dried, then stored to add later to casseroles or pea soup.
Troubleshooting Problems with pea plants usually occur either at the beginning or end of their lifespans. If peas are grown quickly with ample moisture in the cooler months, they are usually trouble free. A lack of flowers or pea pods in winter may be due to cold or frosty conditions, which delay flowering and fruit set. In warmer weather, they may fall victim to powdery mildew, which affects the leaves, or foot rot, a disease that attacks the base of the vine. Remove and destroy diseased vines. Things can be perilous for pea seeds before they germinate. Seeds may be stolen by ants or the nutritious seedling can be killed by damping off, a fungal disease. If these problems occur, try growing peas in a different area of the garden or in a large container, or start with seedlings rather than sowing seeds in situ. Seeds are also less likely to become diseased if they are sown into damp soil and then not watered until they emerge a few days after sowing. Young seedlings can be attacked by cut worms. Cut worms are the larvae of click beetles and live in the soil. They cut off pea and other seedlings at their base. One way to protect seedlings from cut worm is to protect each seedling with a cardboard tube, or a foam cup with its base cut off, sunk into the ground to surround the seedling. Once the seedling has hardened up and before it has reached its climbing frame, the tube can be gently removed.
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| Peas with Simon Bryant
Star ingredient: Peas
Lentil & Pea Risotto Recipe by Simon Bryant Serves 6
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150g red lentils, skin on (these are brown, red inside) 700mL vegetable stock 40mL olive oil 1 onion, finely chopped 1 garlic clove, crushed 1 leek, sliced 1 cup shelled peas 1 tbsp ground coriander 1 tbsp ground cumin 1 fennel bulb, chopped 150g uncooked arborio rice 150mL dry white wine 2 bay leaves Salt & pepper 50g freshly grated parmesan cheese ½ bunch chopped dill or fennel ¼ bunch chopped parsley Extra olive oil to garnish
1. Place lentils in a pan, cover with hot water and let sit for an hour. Then bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15–20 mins. Drain and set aside. 2. Pour the stock into a pan and bring to the boil. 3. Heat oil in a large pan and add the onion, garlic, leek, celeriac and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 mins or until softened. Add ground coriander and cumin. Add fennel, rice and lentils and sauté until rice is glassy. 4. Add wine, bring to the boil, add the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper. When most of the liquid has been absorbed, add most of the hot stock. Cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed, checking to see if it needs the rest of the stock. 5. Check for seasoning. 6. Add parmesan and herbs, stir through and serve.
Peas with Simon Bryant | COOKING
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Green Garden Soup Recipe by Nature’s Wonderland Health and Wellness Store Peas are actually in season and freshest in the warm weather of spring, so fresh pea soup is not only a winter favourite but wonderful in spring, too! Serves 5
Ingredients 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 red onion, diced 1 tsp Celtic sea salt 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 1kg shelled green peas 1 cup fresh mint leaves 1 large carrot, sliced 4 cups vegetable stock 2 large potatoes, boiled & diced 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice or more to taste
Method 1. Sauté the garlic, onion and sea salt in a bit of olive oil until soft. 2. Add the peas, mint and carrot and stir until well combined. Cover with the vegetable stock, bring to the boil and let
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simmer until peas are just turning tender — about 15 mins. Meanwhile, make sure the potatoes are boiled. 3. Add the potatoes and simmer for a further 5 mins. 4. Allow to cool slightly and then transfer to blender. Puree until smooth and creamy. 5. Return to the pot and add in the desired amount of lemon juice. Then season with Celtic sea salt and garnish with parsley or mint. 6. Green Garden Soup freezes quite well and can be safely stored in the freezer for up to 12 months. The soup does separate a bit when frozen but returns to a creamy texture when reheated on the stovetop. A little water or milk can also be added to the soup during the reheating to keep the correct consistency.
With Sandy Moore Cumquats | GARDEN | GROWING TO TABLE
Cumquats (Citrus japonica, syn. Fortunella japonica) Words by Jennifer Stackhouse
n Chinese culture, cumquats (also called kumquats) are the lucky plant and prized as gifts for Chinese New Year. Indeed, cumquats are among the most widely grown gift plants in China and are admired for their small but prolific orange fruit that makes the tree appear bedecked in gold coins. Even if you don’t believe they’ll bring luck or riches, they certainly enrich winter and early spring when in fruit.
flashed before my eyes. If you can bear to harvest such a decorative crop, there’s plenty to do with cumquats. They can be added to both sweet and savoury dishes, as chef Simon Bryant explains on page 90, or they can be preserved in brandy or eaten fresh, skin and all, although fresh cumquats are tart. Like all citrus, cumquats are rich in vitamin C and high in dietary fibre.
Varieties Good to eat I struck it lucky with cumquats recently when a bag of them came my way. Visions of jars of cumquat marmalade
Cumquats can be grown in the garden or in a large container. Indeed, they make a highly decorative potted plant for a sunny balcony or courtyard. The potted plants
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GROWING | Cumquats look particularly good placed as a pair on either side of a set of steps. Cumquats are also grown as bonsai specimens. Although I love the look of golden fruit against the dark-green cumquat leaves, there is a variegated form (‘Variegata’) that has cream and white leaves all year round. It still produces fruit, but it is less obvious. Cumquat fruit can be oval or round. ‘Nagami’ has oval fruit and is popular for marmalades. The fruit can be eaten raw but the skin is tough and slightly bitter. ‘Marumi’ has round orange fruit on a thorny but coldtolerant tree. ‘Meiwa’ has round, seedless fruit that’s perhaps the best of all the cumquats to eat fresh. It needs protection from cold and frost. There’s also a plant sold as the Australian cumquat. This is actually a calamondin, which has larger fruit than a true cumquat but which is often grown in Australian gardens as a cumquat and used in the same way.
plants, particularly those in subtropical and tropical climates, have fruit at other times as well. Harvest small amounts as they are required rather than strip the bush. Towards the end of winter and in early spring, the tree may begin to discard its crop as new flowers appear. That’s an indication it’s time to get bottling.
Storing and preserving Store cumquats on the tree until they are needed. They keep well once picked, but discard any that become soft or mouldy. To have cumquats on hand, preserve them in brandy and sugar by first pricking the skins all over with a darning needle and then placing the fruit in a sterilised jar. Only use firm fruit. Pour brandy and sugar over them and seal the jar. Allow the fruit to mature in the jar. Cumquats can also be frozen whole, candied or made into delicious marmalade (see Simon Bryant’s delicious Cumquat Marmalade recipe on the opposite page).
How to grow Whether your cumquat is in a pot or the ground, it likes to be placed in a sunny spot with good drainage. All citrus, including cumquats, prefer a slightly acid soil with regular feeding and watering. In containers, use a potting mix formulated for good water-holding capacity. As cumquats can be left in containers for many years before they need repotting, add some weed-free garden loam to the mix at planting to prevent the mix from slumping. A ratio of one part soil to nine parts potting mix creates a long-lasting growing medium. Regularly add organic compost as a surface mulch, along with a small amount of citrus food each month from late winter to autumn. In the ground, cumquats are fed with a good organic fertiliser or citrus food in late winter and midsummer. They need little additional care other than regular watering and the occasional trim to keep them in shape.
Troubleshooting While most of the citrus group are troubled by lots of pests and some diseases, cumquats seem mostly immune to the normal citrus problems. However, they can be attacked by scale, an insect pest that clusters on the stems or leaves. Scale is often accompanied by sooty mould, a fungus that coats the leaves black. Scale outbreaks are brought under control with applications of an organic registered horticultural oil and by keeping the plant growing strongly. Scale can be an indication that the plant is too dry or too shaded, so try to improve its care and growing conditions as well as treating the pest. If the fruit drops prematurely or has small sting marks on the skin, it may have been attacked by fruit fly. Use orgnanically friendly baits, like Eco-Naturalure, for fruit fly to protect the crop.
Harvesting Fruit is ripe and at its maximum sweetness when the skin is fully orange. Cumquats hang on the tree for months from autumn right through winter and into spring. Some
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Cumquat label Common name: Cumquat or kumquat Botanical name: Citrus japonica (syn. Fortunella japonica) Family: Rutaceae Aspect and soil: Sun; well-drained soil Best climate: All areas Habit: Evergreen tree Propagation: Seed, cutting, grafting Difficulty: Easy
Cumquats with Simon Bryant | PRESERVING
Star ingredient: Cumquats
Cumquat Marmalade Recipe by Simon Bryant
Ingredients 1kg cumquats 5 cups water 2 tbsp lemon juice 3 cups sugar
Method 1. Slice the cumquats in quarters lengthwise and knock aside as many pips as you can. 2. Put the pips in some muslin cloth and tie up. Place pips and cumquats in a bowl,
cover with water and sit overnight. 3. Next day, place pips and fruit in a saucepan and boil for 20 mins. Turn down heat, add lemon juice and sugar and bring back to a rapid simmer for about 20 mins. 4. Test setting by popping a smidge on a pre-frozen plate in freezer for a couple of minutes. If it gels, itâ€™s ready; if not, simmer another 5â€“10 mins and retest. 5. Discard muslin cloth full of pips and store marmalade in a sterilised jar.
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| Cumquats with Simon Bryant
Steamed Cumquat Pudding Recipe by Simon Bryant
Ingredients 20 large or 30 small cumquats, cut roughly into halves or quarters 60g dark brown sugar Pinch ground lemon myrtle 80g cold butter, cubed 120g suet, minced 220g self-raising flour 60mL cold milk 60mL cold water Pinch salt
Method 1. In a mixer, combine suet and flour, add liquids and knead until well combined. Roll out on a floured bench to 4â€“5mm thick. 2. Line a 12cm (approx) heatproof bowl with butter. Cut a lid the size of the base of the bowl and use the rest of the pastry to line the bowl.
90 | Good Organic Gardening
3. Mix all ingredients and stuff into the lined pudding bowl. Pop the pastry lid on and pinch all the edges closed. 4. Cut a piece of baking paper in a circle double the size of the pudding bowl. Place a pleat (about 1cm doubled over) down the centre of the paper to allow for expansion and place over the pudding and tie very tightly with string to ensure it is sealed (you can pop on a thick rubber band as well if you like). 5. Place a pot containing around 6â€“10cm of water on the stove, bring to the boil and place the bowl in it (ensuring the water level is below the top of the bowl). Cover with a lid and steam for a couple of hours, checking the water level periodically (or use a steamer tray if you prefer). 6. Invert the pudding to serve with a good ice-cream and a few sprigs of mint.
Beans | PLANT PROFILE Ripe French green beans
Beans (Phaseolus spp.)
Photo by Bigstock
Beans are popular, easyto-grow, versatile vegies that everyone loves to eat straight oďŹ€ the plant
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PLANT PROFILE | Beans 'Purple King' and 'Rattlesnake'
eans are warm-season vegetables that come in both bush varieties and tall, twining climbers that can reach around 2m in height.
to be trained onto a support such as a stake, tepee, wire mesh or trellis. When climbing beans reach a good picking height, simply snip out growing tips as they appear.
Time to plant
Seed can be sown from October to January in temperate to cool zones. In tropical areas, it can be sown any time except during the wet season.
Beans are ready to pick when about 15–20cm long. It’s best to use scissors or small snips rather than pull them from the plant.
Problems Planting guide Beans are best sown from seed. Push the seed gently about 4mm into moistened soil. Cover with the dislodged soil and leave watering-in until the following day. A little green head will emerge after a week or so.
Care Water growing beans but don’t flood. Every four weeks, feed with organic liquid fertiliser. As the twining varieties grow, they will need
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Wind and hot weather can cause browning of the foilage. Water any affected plants well and they should recover during the cool of night. Whitefly can be a problem. The adults are small white moth-like flies, 1mm in length, that lay eggs on the underside of leaves. Suggested organic control includes vacuuming or wiping them off or the use of Eco-Neem, EcoOil or Sticky Yellow Traps — follow the instructions on the packaging.
Climbing green beans
Photos by Bigstock & courtesy of The Diggers Club (www.diggers.com.au)
Common name: Beans Botanical name: Phaseolus spp. Requires: Sun, moist soil Dislikes: Drying out Suitable for: Vegetable gardens in all climates; bush varieties can be grown in pots Habit: Twining climbers or low bushes Needs: Liquid fertiliser monthly; twining varieties need support by trellis, tepee or stake Difficulty: Moderately easy
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REVIEWS | Books
Cover to cover Some great resources for gardeners and cooks GOOD ORGANIC
Diane Norris, Universal Magazines, RRP $19.95 This stunning diary will help you keep track of the birthdays, special anniversaries, appointments and events that will shape your life for the next 12 months. It’s also a yearround, hands-on reference for gardeners, with entries on weekly edible plantings covering four climatic zones, plus reminders of things to do or notice in the garden each month. And it also features glorious colour photographs that will inspire your own planting ideas. In addition, each month brings a useful tip from organic gardeners whose vegie plots have been featured on our Gardening Folk pages, as well as some tips from our regular contributors. In a time of digital domination, the glossy pages of the Good Organic Gardening 2014 diary will make a lovely gift for any gardener. 2014 DIARY
Square Metre Gardening Mel Bartholomew, Exisle Publishing, RRP $29.99 American Mel Bartholomew’s bestselling book (over 2 million copies!), All New Square Foot Gardening, has been metrically adapted for Australia and New Zealand. The retired engineer’s gardening system, developed over years, takes out the hard yards — digging, weeding, fertilising — and offers a method to help gardeners of all skill and fitness levels, including beginners and elderly people, to produce a bountiful crop of edibles without the need for chemicals or backbreaking labour. Besides Mel’s system, the book covers vertical gardening and includes planting charts and plant-by-plant how-togrow pages and much more. For a taste, turn to our excerpt from the book on page 46 of this issue, featuring Mel’s Mix — his fail-safe recipe for the perfect growing medium.
Love Your Leftovers: A Community Cooking Guide to Help You Save Money & the Environment Holroyd City Council, RRP $15.00 Why buy a cookbook devoted to using leftovers? For starters, to reduce the 800 tonnes of food waste each year from NSW households alone. That equates to 315kg per home, at an average cost of $1036, and a huge impact on landfill. Plus, 10 per cent of the proceeds will benefit Parramatta Mission’s Food Recovery Program. Apart from altruistic and environmental reasons, this charming little book with its retro design will give you some terrific ideas for using leftover roast meats, chicken, cooked vegetables, pasta and rice, single vegies in the crisper drawer, stale bread and the dregs of the fruit bowl. There’s even a What Leftovers? chapter with dishes so good there won’t be anything left in the pot.
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rpc.com.au 94 | Good Organic Gardening
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Compiled by Kerry Boyne
Good Organic Gardening 2014 Diary
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WHAT’S NEW | Products
pick of the crop Our selection of products and services for gardeners and cooks A Kuvings Silent Juicer ... taking you on a healthy journey Juicing with the Kuvings Silent Juicer opens a whole new world when it comes to health and nutritional value. Cold-press juicing using organic fruit and vegetables is a good way to get your full nutrition the natural way. Green vegetables are a must in your daily diet to assist in healing your cells while enjoying green juice. A fundamental quality of greens is chlorophyll, the product of plants turning light into energy for insects and animals to eat. Without this, life as we know if would not exist. Some of the many amazing benefits of chlorophyll include powerful detoxifying properties against parasites and mould. Chlorophyll can also improve our blood quality. It also helps the repair and growth of all tissues in the body. Try this delicious green juice recipe: 100g kale, 2 kiwifruit, half a lemon with skin and ½ a pineapple. www.kuvings.net.au
BIO Mineral Ace Pot The BIO Mineral Ace Pot is a great portable solution for providing naturally alkalised mineral water on the go at work, when travelling, exercising or on holidays. Composed of organic compounds, the BMP Ace removes at least 85–90 per cent of fluoride, residual chloride, dirt, heavy metals, viruses, bacteria and nitrates. This is done using an iodine-rich seaweed resin and activated coconut shell carbon-bonded with activated silver. After impurities are removed, water passes through its next stages of mineralisation. Calcium-rich coral and silica sand naturally alkalise water molecules while adding 60 organic trace minerals. The BMP Ace also contains magnets to structure the water molecules and assists with water ionisation. Turning complexity into simplicity, this product is made from BPA-free perspex and has a long-lasting two-year filter life at six litres a day. For just 2¢ a litre, enjoy clean, healthy drinking water as nature intended. www.livingconscious.com.au
Grow-Fresh Greenhouses® Grow-Fresh Greenhouses® is a fast-growing Australian-owned family business offering a wide range of domestic greenhouses and glasshouses. As the leader in the domestic greenhouse market, Grow-Fresh Greenhouses® maintains a wide selection to suit all requirements and budgets while ensuring quality is matched with value for money. Old-fashioned principles of customer service are applied from the time of first enquiry through to completion and beyond, whether your requirement is for a greenhouse for practical growing purposes or as part of a large garden feature. 2013 has been a big year with the unveiling of new greenhouse and glasshouse ranges along with new colour options. Sizes range from 2m in length to 11m and beyond. Colour choice includes silver, green, black and white. Such a large selection, there is a greenhouse to suit every garden. Call 1300 GO GROW (1300 46 4769) or visit the website. www.growfreshgreenhouses.com.au
Powerweeder The Powerweeder is all Australian owned and made. Manufactured from high-quality mower-blade steel and specially formulated nylon plastic, it will do anything from a light trim down to bare earth, mulching up the weeds and soil, aerating soils and allowing water to penetrate evenly. It’s also good for mixing in fertiliser. Standards Australia had deemed it unadvisable to use any metal fittings on a bent-shaft brushcutter/whipper snipper as they have a much weaker structure than the highpowered straight-shaft units. Because of this, the smaller domestic high-quality plastic Mini Powerweeder version was developed. It does an amazing job on new growth in established soils — the very time it’s advisable to tackle weed problems before they spread and seed. The Mini Powerweeder makes weeding easier in a domestic garden, enabling you to get between the plants with ease. www.powerweeder.com
96 | Good Organic Gardening
Products | WHAT’S NEW
Greensmart Sydney Designed by a Melbourne-based company and first introduced to Australian gardeners in 2008, the GreenSmart Pot was developed with the objective of providing a self-reliant, sustainable gardening initiative that would be suitable in any space. The GreenSmart Pot is ideal for balconies and small patios as well as large backyards and paddocks. With its unique patented visual water level indicator and built-in reservoir, the GreenSmart Pot will provide healthier, fresher vegetables and herbs with low maintenance and no water wastage. What makes GreenSmart the smarter alternative? • The GreenSmart pot maximises growth with minimal effort and water usage. • Cross-cut overflow holes prevent over-watering and mosquitoes breeding in the reservoir and create an air cushion between the potting mix and water reservoir for the roots to be aerated. The aeration enhances plant growth by about 30 per cent. • Food-grade plastic prevents contamination of the potting medium and the plant. • Transparent water level indicator enables easy monitoring. • Depth and width of the pot allow the flexibility to grow a wide range of plants. www.greensmartsydney.com.au
Healthy from root to fruit! Dr Grow It All is a balanced organic liquid plant nutrient and soil rejuvenator. This complete growing solution, containing biological compounds and billions of beneficial plant-acceptable bacteria, promotes bio-stimulation for exceptional plant growth with the added benefit of replenishing the soil. It stimulates microbial activity deep down in the soil, creating a sustainable environment for strong cellular-developed roots necessary for withstanding the strains of climate change, transplanting, and producing abundant tasty, nutritious, pest-resistant fruit and veg. Suitable for all plant types, including fruit, vegetables, lawns, shrubs, herbs, natives, flowers and trees, Dr Grow It All is a highly concentrated, costeffective and easy-to-use product for both the home gardener and commercial grower. Available in retail sizes 1L, 2.5L, 10L and 20L and bulk commercial 1000L shuttles. www.drgrowitall.com.au
Simply divine! Organic Times homestyle organic cookies are so delicious and full of natural goodness you will be able to taste the flavour of every special ingredient used. Using premium couverture chocolate and organic butter from pasture-fed cows, Organic Times guarantees cookies that will impress. Varieties include Triple Chocolate, White Chocolate & Macadamia, Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Almond, Little Gems and Chocolate & Cranberry. Triple Chocolate and Chocolate & Cranberry are also available in a gluten-free alternative. Organic Times is an Australian-owned business offering an extensive range of quality organic products made from the finest natural ingredients, including chocolates, butter and milk powder, cocoa powder, carob powder, icing sugar, rapadura sugar and more. Stockists include David Jones, Thomas Dux Supermarkets and good healthfood and organic stores. www.organictimes.com.au
Great gifts Eden’s Organic Gift Ideas is an Australian owned and operated business specialising in gift hampers that support the Australian economy and environment. Founder and organic advocate Karen Anne was determined to create a gift hamper experience that was second to none, choosing organic products that were boutique quality, not available in the major supermarkets, and made from ethically sourced ingredients using sustainable business practices. All products are made right here in Australia and, where possible, are gluten-free and vegan. www.organicgiftideas.com.au
Complied by Kerry Boyne
Wobble-Tee leads the water-saving way The winner of the Smart WaterMark Consumer Product of the Year Award for 2012 was the Australian-owned and made Wobble-Tee Sprinkler. With its low flow rate and ability to be used in the backyard or larger spaces, and internal filter allowing for a variety of water sources, the Wobble-Tee scored highly on all criteria: innovation, marketability, sustainability and design. Wobble-Tee inventor Tony Holmes said a percentage from the sales of pink Wobble-Tee Sprinklers will be donated to the Jane McGrath Foundation. “This has been a great year for Wobble-Tee. We’re being recognised for our water conservation message and being able to work with the McGrath Foundation is a real honour,” he said. www.wobble-tee.com.au
Good Organic Gardening | 97
WHAT’S NEW | PRODUCTS Water only when needed with the Toro Precision™ Soil Sensor
Preserve food naturally Dehydrating food is the world’s oldest method of natural food preservation. Now drying food is easy due to the efficient and reliable Ezidri range of dehydrators allowing all types of food to be dried at home. Dehydrating intensifies the aroma and taste of food, transforming it into the perfect ingredient for enhancing the flavour of your favourite snacks and dishes. Not only does dehydrated food taste great, it’s good for you, too. By drying food with an Ezidri, you retain over 96 per cent of the food’s original nutrients. Drying at the correct temperature also does not destroy valuable enzymes that are the very essence of raw food, and there is no need for preservatives. And by buying your produce in season, or using your own surplus fruit and vegetables, you can save money and avoid waste. Ph 1800 671 109, www.eziconcepts.com.au
Bronrob Bronrob first established its niche in ceramic products but has continued to keep up with the current trends in the other popular niche products, including garden furniture, ornaments, wall art, wall décor and novelties. Bronrob sculpture is created with iron sheets, metal, scrap and recycled parts. Unique and whimsical, the works are perfect to decorate your home and garden, inside and out. Dogs, cats, birds and sculptures are formed in bare metal and rust naturally with age. That’s their beauty — they look better as they get older. Bronrob offers a large range of high-quality garden ornaments, furniture, ceramic pots and planters as well as sculptures of large birds and metal animals, wall pot holders and bird feeders. Classic Chinese blue and white and contemporary indoor/outdoor planters complete the range. www.bronrob.com.au
98 | Good Organic Gardening
Mother Nature’s soap “Have you ever wondered what your laundry detergent or shampoo is doing to the environment after it goes down your drain? You don’t need to look hard to find reports of environmental damage from household chemicals, but I was worried about these products even before they went down the drain. My mum who, like her mum, died too young from cancer, had always warned me never to touch laundry powder because it’s carcinogenic. She was right and I was careful — but I’m not any more. I discovered a laundry detergent that literally falls off a tree, does a better job than the powder I was using and is actually good for the environment. It didn’t take long to find that this ‘detergent’ (soap nuts) made my windows shiny, cleaned my floors and cleaned my kids from head to toe — even keeping head lice away. I’m so proud to be able to share soap nuts with many other people through our home business, go green at home.” — Lee-Ann Wilson www.gogreenathome.com.au
The Toro Precision™ Soil Sensor reduces water waste by measuring moisture levels in your soil and determining when to allow your controller to water. “We’ve taken the same technology found at professional golf courses and sports fields and created a sensor intended for residential use,” says Ben Hall of Toro Australia. The Precision Soil Sensor is a two-part system that includes a battery-powered sensor and a receiver connected to your irrigation controller. Communication between the sensor and receiver is wireless, with up to 152m line-of-sight range. It’s very easy to install and no digging is required. First, connect the receiver to the controller, then find a representative area of your property for the sensor. Push the sensor probe in the ground and it will automatically calibrate itself to your soil type and begin communicating wirelessly with the receiver. www.toro.com.au
Land use and bioplastics Biofilm is often asked about the effect of bioplastics on land use for food production. The effect is negligible. Recent information from European Bioplastics (April 8, 2013) is that the land surface needed to grow feedstock for today’s bioplastic production is less than 0.006 per cent of the global agricultural area of 5 billion hectares. In graphic terms, that’s like a cherry tomato sitting next to the Eiffel Tower! Most of the bioplastic is sourced from Novamont, which grows most of its corn (maize) in Italy (non-GMO production). The amount of land used to grow corn as feedstock for Novamont was under 1 per cent of total Italian corn production. The aim of producing biooplastics that can be composted is to return the materials to the soil where it is well known that compost has a very positive effect on soils. www.biobaganz.com
Products | WHAT’S NEW
Dry it — you’ll like it! Felco saws cut it Felco pruning saws offer exceptional performance and durability with a choice of models for all pruning tasks. Their innovative blade design and an easy-to-use pull action combine to ensure faster, smoother cuts of all wood types with less effort. The Felco range features three models, each with an ergonomically designed non-slip handle for operator safety and comfort. The compact Felco 600 is a handy folding saw with a hard-chromed, rustresistant 16cm blade and exceptionally durable teeth. The Felco 611 and 621 have 33cm and 24cm blades respectively and come with a sturdy scabbard and belt hanger. The unique blade design cuts cleanly without clogging. In the Felco tradition, these pruning saws feature replaceable blades, ensuring they are true tools for life. Ph 1800 730 257, www.felco.com.au
Experience the superior functionality of Excalibur Dehydrators. Dry and prepare your food in style with the best dehydrator on the market, now available in six new colours. Choose from Twilight Black, Radiant Raspberry, Radiant Blueberry, Radiant Cherry, Copper or Antique Copper. From drying fresh fruit to preparing gourmet raw food, Excalibur Dehydrators take pride of place in the healthsavvy home. Dry fruits and vegetables. Make your own granola. Dry fruit purée into a fruit roll-up. Make all-natural pet treats. Use for arts and crafts. Ideal for families, gardeners, crafts people and pet owners. Featuring the Parallex™ Forced Fan design and the Hyperwave™ Adjustable Thermostat/Timer technology, Excalibur Food Dehydrators come in standard, stainless steel and coloured steel models, available at Nature’s Wonderland. Call 1800 044 722 or visit the website. www.natureswonderland.com.au
Maze Greenhouses How satisfying would it be to grow your own healthy plump fruit and vegetables rain, hail or shine? How beautiful is the thought of fresh flowers or herbs no matter which season it is? Over the past couple of years Maze, a leader in garden and outdoor products, has sold thousands of these greenhouse structures to the Australian market. Based on this overwhelming success, Maze has increased the range to offer both larger and more compact structures. You don’t even need a garden — just a small designated area on your land. The greenhouse is a great way to teach kids how things grow and the new extra-large model makes a great outdoor room that’s maintenance-free, 100 per cent UV-protected and made from a rust-resistant aluminium frame and virtually unbreakable crystal-clear polycarbonate panels. These quality greenhouses are made in Israel, known for its advanced greenhouse technology both in the domestic and agricultural market. Go to Bunnings Special Orders Desk to order or visit the website. Ph 1300 449 107, www.mazedistribution.com.au
Eden Seeds The aim at Eden Seeds is to distribute old, traditional, open-pollinated varieties of vegetable seed, preferably old Australian varieties and organically or biodynamically grown where possible. They are more nutritious and better tasting, hardy and easier to grow for the home gardener. Old varieties produce over an extended period and home gardeners obtain relaxation, enjoyment and quality from a most rewarding hobby. Eden Seeds offers the traditional non-hybrid varieties that have had no chemical treatment and no genetic engineering. Alf Finch, founder in 1987 of Eden Seeds, also established Select Organic certified organic seeds, which offers nearly 400 varieties of organic seeds. Check the Eden Seeds website for special offers and for the planting guide to all the popular vegies in all climate zones. www.edenseeds.com.au, www.selectorganic.com.au
Angove Organic Sauvignon Blanc Angove Family Winemakers, one of Australia’s oldest family-owned wineries, is proud to grow the number of wines offered under the Angove Organic label. Initially launched in 2007 as a Shiraz Cabernet and Chardonnay pair, with a Merlot added in 2011, the first vintages of Angove Organic wines sold out in record time following fantastic support from a broad retailer and restaurant network and strong reviews for all wines. With more of the Angove vineyards achieving organic status in 2013, Angove has the opportunity to increase the range and this year sees the addition of an organic Sauvignon Blanc to the line-up. Sauvignon Blanc is the largestselling single varietal in Australia and this recent addition, being one of only a handful of Sauvignon Blancs that are organically certified, is sure to give a massive boost and exposure to the Angove Organic brand. For more information or to purchase direct, www.angove.com.au
Good Organic Gardening | 99
WHAT’S NEW | PRODUCTS
Eco!ogic pressure cleaners Rainbow Power The Rainbow Power Company started with green ideals at local market stalls 25 years ago, building the business to what it is today — a leader in the field of renewable energy that doesn’t cost the earth, providing solar systems across Australia and the Pacific. The most recent innovation has been the development of pre-wired remote-power solar systems designed to the customer’s specs and shipped direct anywhere in Australia, for installation by a local electrician. Also on offer is a wide range of low-cost mini and micro solar-power options for use in the field, farm shed and home, from portable low-wattage lighting kits to direct solar chargers for USB devices, to solar powering a small fridge and more. You can combine all your gardening activities with clean, renewable energy from the sun and cook in the garden with a solar box cooker. Rainbow Power Company can design an off-grid solar system for your home. Call 02 6689 1430 or buy online via the webshop. www.rpc.com.au
100 | Good Organic Gardening
The beauty of bamboo Margareta Wahlstrom, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, said, “We live in a world where clean water is becoming scarce.” She went on to suggest we should all think about how much clean water we use. The bamboo plant grows under rainwater in its native areas, whereas cotton needs heaps of water — 4000 litres to grow enough for one T-shirt (The Coming Famine by Julian Cribb, CSIRO) — and the runoff contains poisonous pesticides. Bamboo is naturally anti-bacterial, so it doesn’t need pesticide and the runoff is drinkable water. Clean water is just one of the reasons why Eastwind Textiles insists on 100 per cent bamboo for top-quality twill sheets in all sizes from king down to cot. Luxuriously soft, easy to wash, long lasting and beneficial for those with skin problems such as eczema, 100 per cent bamboo towels absorb three times better than cotton. One touch and you’re dry! www. eastwindtextiles.com.au
Kärcher has a long history of sustainable production and design. The new Eco!ogic range of home cleaning products extends that green ethos. Kärcher has developed a brand-new generation of Eco!ogic appliances to combine sophisticated engineering, outstanding performance, userfriendly features and ecological common sense. The result are extremely efficient, environmentally friendly and high-quality tools that set new standards in the field. www.karcher.com.au
Neoflam Nature Chef Roca With its state-of-the-art design, Neoflam Nature Chef Roca won the 2012 iF Product Design Award. Engineered for healthy, efficient cooking, Neoflam Cookware incorporates the innovation of Ecolon coating, which is made all natural materials such as sand, stone and silica. The coating leads to environmentally friendly, perfectly safe, scratch-resistant nonstick, non-toxic cooking performance. Both the inside and outside of body and lid are coated with Ecolon, making cleaning a breeze. With its simple flowing lines and soothing colours, Neoflam is highly functional art, sure to be a conversation piece on any dining table. The product is designed to be multifunctional as cookware, bakeware and table/ serving ware through to refrigerator storage. Neoflam Cookware is manufactured to be just one-third the weight of conventional castiron cookware and heat is conducted to create a convection effect for efficient energy use and thorough cooking. Steam vent holes are hidden under the Bakelite knobs, a design inspired by nature. In addition, the steam vents prevent boilovers. Fully detachable silicone grips mean that no oven mitt is needed. www.neoflam.com.au
Directory FREIGHT FREE AUSTRALIA WIDE Did you know? We Australians put over 30 Million Plastic toothbrushes into landfill each year. The The Environmental plastic they are made Toothbrush. from will not break Made from sustainable Bamboo, down in your lifetime these gorgeous toothbrushes are or in the lifetime of 100% biodegradable. your children.
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We stock a wide range of rare & unusual seeds GMO free heritage varieties, Vegetables, Flowers, Herbs & more We have the widest & cheapest range of sprouting seeds in Australia
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Directory A Australian-made Stainless Steel Gardening Tools.
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Bronrob ﬁrst established its niche in ceramic products but has continued to keep up with the set trends for the other popular niche products including garden furniture, ornaments, wall art, wall décor and novelties.
Bronrob sculpture is created with iron sheets metal, scrap and recycled parts. Unique and whimsical, they’re perfect to decorate your home and garden inside and out. Dogs, cats, birds and sculptures are bare metal and naturally rust with age. That’s their beauty and that’s why it looks great with their age.
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Have a great garden - visit Kimbriki A great place to see recycling in action
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